Breastfeeding a child is the most sacred and intimate experience for a new mother. It helps a child get the required nutrition, grow stronger and helps the mother and baby form a bond. But sometimes, the bliss of breastfeeding comes with a bit of discomfort as well. Leaky breasts, soreness or tenderness of breasts and even infections or broken nipples are a few things a new mother who is still establishing breastfeeding and a proper latch might experience. However, there are many tools and accessories that can help a new lactating mother tackle these issues.
Nursing or breast pads are one such accessory that is a saviour for a new mother who is breastfeeding her child. So, if you are looking to buy breast pads online or are planning to visit a store and get a few pairs for yourself, this article will help you understand all you need to know before you buy them.
What Are Breast Pads / Nursing Pads
Breast pads are absorbent protective pads meant to wear inside the bra to help absorb any leaked milk during the last trimester of pregnancy or breastfeeding phase. Breast pads are curved and layered to fit the breast perfectly and not look awkward on the outside. While some women also use breast pads to give their breasts a better shape or hide the nipple shape from showing on the outer clothes, nursing pads are specifically meant to be used during breastfeeding to absorb the milk leakage from the breasts. Depending on your requirement, you can get disposable one-time-use breast pads and reusable and washable breast pads.
What Are Breast Pads / Nursing Pads For
During the last few weeks of your pregnancy, your body prepares for childbirth. In this phase, the body undergoes many changes, and the hormone levels adjust according to the last trimester. For example, in this phase, your body starts to produce Prolactin, a hormone responsible for producing milk in the human body. Thus, without any warning, sometimes you will experience a let-down – a process where milk starts to leak from your breasts.
Even after childbirth, once your child starts breastfeeding, you might experience frequent leakage in your breasts. This happens when the breast is full, and you neither pump the milk out nor feed your child. Leakage of the breastmilk is not just something that might spoil your clothes but can also lead to redness, irritation or infection in your nipples due to constant dampness in the area.
Breast pads are your best solution in such situations. Please don’t wait till childbirth to buy your pair of reusables, washable breast pads; keep them ready from the third trimester. Then, put the pads on before going out or if you are wearing some fancy clothing to save them from milk stains.
Are Breast Pads Safe?
As long as you maintain good wash hygiene and change them from time to time, breast pads are absolutely safe to use. However, if you do not change them in time, the dampness can lead to bacterial or fungal growth and lead to nipple infection and even stomach infection for your baby if they feed from the breasts without properly cleaning them. Thus, keep a few extra clean sets with you just in case you need them to replace.
How To Use Breast Pads / Nursing Pads
Here are the simple steps you need to follow to use your breast pads:
- Prepare The Breast Pads – Ensure that the breast pad you pick is appropriately washed and completely dry. Sun drying any piece of garment or accessory that touches your privates or is constantly in a humid and damp part of the body is a must to get rid of all bacterial and fungal growth completely.
- Prepare Your Nipple – Just like your breast pads, ensure that your nipples are also clean and dry. If your nipples are sore or irritated, apply nipple butter before wearing the breast pads.
- Place The Breast Pad – Position the breast pads so that the nipples are in the middle of the pads. Now wedge the pad properly between your breast and the bra.
- Adjust – If you are using reusable breast pads, they are usually thicker than disposable ones. If needed, or if showing above the clothes, adjust them.
- Replace – Carry a waterproof cloth bag and a few pairs of fresh breast pads with you if you leave the house. Whenever the breast pads get wet, replace them without any delays to avoid the risk of infection.
- Wash – All accessories and apparel these days come with the manufacturer’s guidelines. So, wash the breast pads as per the guidelines given by the brand for longer life. You may also want to use a disinfectant liquid to clean them if it is allowed for the fabric and the padding material. Regardless of how you wash them, avoid fabric softeners, as they impact the absorbance of any material.
- Disinfect – Once every few weeks, disinfect the breast pads to eliminate any chance of fungal or bacterial build-up. Wash them in water mixed with vinegar and sun dry them for complete disinfecting.
Leaking breasts is something all new moms experience. There is nothing to feel awkward about when it happens. Just be prepared and avoid any discomfort. Happy Parenting!