This article is contributed by Ms Ashley, Chung Shuk Ting
1. Do I need to toughen up my nipples for antenatal preparation?
Rubbing your nipples may lead to cracks developing even before breastfeeding has begun. Additionally, toughening your nipples with a wet cloth may remove some lubricant produced by the Montgomery glands on your areola. This secretion can facilitate your baby to find your nipples after birth. When a baby latched on deeply, your nipple tip is far back in your baby’s mouth and this helps protect against any nipple damage and helps make breastfeeding comfortable. Therefore, toughening up nipples is not advised.
2. Do I need to do any antenatal preparation on my flat / inverted nipples?
Antenatal treatment on nipples is not recommended because it has not been found to be effective. All nipples tend to become more supple during pregnancy. Moreover, it is worth noting that babies do not nipple-feed but breastfeed. Your body naturally does all the necessary preparation on breastfeeding. During pregnancy, the colour of areolas and nipples has darkened and their sizes enlarged. These are hormonal effects of your pregnancy and help prepare your nipples for breastfeeding.
More essential preparations are suggested as follows:
- Attend antenatal class about breastfeeding: gain more basic knowledge on breastfeeding before the baby arrives. Learning about lactation while pregnant will help you feel more confident about nursing your baby.
- Make your own breastfeeding plan: like a birth plan, you can create your breastfeeding plan. A written breastfeeding plan can let the hospital staffs know the things that you want (like skin-to-skin after birth, rooming in) and the things you want to avoid (e.g. using pacifier and supplementing) regarding breastfeeding.
- Purchase breastfeeding essentials: Explore the products regarding breastfeeding, they may make the whole breastfeeding experience easier.
- Psychological preparation: be prepared for breastfeeding challenge. Although breastfeeding is considered natural, it is an art that has to be learned by both the mother and the newborn. It takes time to get used to breastfeeding.
- Inform your family members and gain their support: tell them about your will on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can be much easier if there is solid support from family. 6. Find lactation support network: do searching and connect with community resources and lactation consultant before birth helps you to get familiar with where you can seek for help.