Breast Feeding and Breast Care

If you are breast-feeding your milk should come in within 3-5 days. Breast-feeding on demand will help reduce engorgement and increase the milk supply. Use warm water, without soap, to keep your breasts clean. Soap may dry and crack your nipples. If your nipples crack, expose them to air for 15 minutes after breast-feeding. Lanolin ointment may be applied after this. Most babies eat about eight times each day. Try to nurse your baby for at least 15 minutes on one breast and for about 10 minutes on the other breast. It is normal to have more bleeding and/or cramping when breastfeeding.

If you are not nursing and trying to wean the baby, wear a tight fitting bra to reduce engorgement. Cold compresses and Tylenol may help with discomfort. There is no medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent engorgement.

Mastitis is an infection in the breast often related to nursing. Symptoms include a high fever associated with a breast that is red, tender and hard. Other signs of a breast infection include increased pulse rate, chills, malaise, and a headache. The infection is usually caused by a bacteria from the skin or baby's mouth that enters the milk ducts after nursing. If you have mastitis, drink lots of fluids and continue to pump or nurse the baby. The infection will not harm the baby. If you suspect mastitis, schedule an appointment with your physician as you may need antibiotics.