Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 11:05 am

Taking care of your breasts and doing regular check-ups while breastfeeding is very important to reduce risk of infection and to allow successful breastfeeding.

Checking for painful or red, tender spots are essential as this could be a sign of infection or blocked ducts and may also be accompanied by a fever.

Although these spots may be painful it is not necessary to stop breastfeeding. Often mothers feel that the condition will improve upon the cessation of breastfeeding; however this is not true and can often lead to more discomfort. If breasts become tender it is a good idea to offer your baby the less tender breast to feed from and ensure that the attachment to the breast is correct.

Be sure to feed your baby on demand

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It is not necessary to wash nipples in between feeds as they can be toughened and healed from any cracks by being exposed to fresh air for a short time. Allow your breasts to remain exposed after feeding so that drying occurs naturally.

Breasts become tender either due to engorgement or infection (this is less common). Engorgement occurs when the breasts produce more milk than what the baby needs. After feeding, the breast remains full and heavy which is painful and uncomfortable for the mother.

To relieve engorgement try the following:

  • Apply cold cabbage leaves or hot and cold packs to the breast in order to minimise the discomfort
  • Express milk in between feeds to relieve some of the pressure felt
  • Feed from one breast at a time in order to allow emptying on that breast to reduce discomfort levels
  • Doing a warm oil massage and having a warm shower may also relieve the pain

Rest between feeds is essential as being stressed and anxious about feeding can reduce milk supply. Be sure to feed your baby on demand. This means that you allow your baby to feed as often and for however long they need to. This will aid in prevention of further breastfeeding complications.