Care of your breasts

How do I care for my breasts while breastfeeding?

  • Eat well by following Canada’s Food Guide for breastfeeding women
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids and limiting your caffeine intake
  • Make an effort to get as much sleep and rest as possible
  • If your nipples are sore or cracked, applying a small amount of lanolin after feeding may help
  • Keep your nipples dry between feedings

What can I do to help breastfeeding go more smoothly?

Keep at it. Learning to breastfeed takes time. Once you and your baby get the hang of it, breastfeeding will become second nature. In the first week or two of breastfeeding, it is normal for your breasts to feel tender and your nipples may be sore. Rest assured that this discomfort will go away soon!

Get a good latch. Getting a good latch to the breast is one of the most important parts of breastfeeding without discomfort. A good latch involves having most or all of the areola (the dark area around the nipple) in the baby’s mouth. See videos here demonstrating good latch. If the latch is poor, break the suction by putting your finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth and try again. If discomfort persists, or if you feel pain once the baby is latched on properly, it’s important to seek help right away. Check with the hospital nurse or public health nurse for more information.

Wear a good bra. It is a good idea to wear a full-support, properly-fitting breastfeeding bra.

Prevent engorgement and treat blockages. To prevent your breasts from becoming engorged (full of milk, hard, painful), breastfeed as often as you can. Watch your baby for feeding cues and nurse 8 or more times per 24 hours. If you have trouble with engorgement, try a warm compress before feeding, gentle massaging of the breast toward the nipple, and/or hand expressing your milk. If you notice a tender area in your breast, you may have a blocked milk duct. Sometimes redness and swelling also occur. Breastfeed often and position the baby so that the baby’s chin points in the direction of the blockage. If the blockage persists, seek help from a public health nurse, lactation consultant, or someone skilled in helping breastfeeding mothers.