Both your breasts and your maternity bras will play important roles in breastfeeding your baby after childbirth, so it’s important to make sure you care for both during your pregnancy and breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, cleaning the nipples with soap can cause irritation and dryness. It is best to wash the nipples only with water.
Preventing cracked nipples
Nipples often crack during breastfeeding. If you have problems with cracked nipples, it’s important to check your baby is attaching properly to your breast. You may also use a breast cream to provide extra moisture if you choose to breastfeed your baby.
Self-examination for breast cancer
Women have an equal risk of developing breast cancer during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and should continue with breast self-examination every 4-5 weeks. This is especially important for women over 35 who have an increased risk of breast cancer compared to younger women. If you’re over 35 years old, it may also be worth having a mammogram to check for breast cancer before you get pregnant. When checking your breasts for lumps, bear in mind that small breast lumps often form during pregnancy because of blocked milk ducts. These lumps appear red, and are hard and tender to touch. They are nothing to worry about. However, if you notice any lump that concerns you during pregnancy, ask your doctor to check it at your next appointment.
Maternity bra care
To ensure your maternity bras stay in good shape and last throughout your pregnancy and beyond, it’s important to take good care of them. Regular hand washing with a gentle soap is all you really need to do to look after your bras. Maternity bras generally need to be washed more often than other bras, because milk can leak from the breasts and dirty them more quickly.
When washing your bra, never use harsh soaps like bleach or nappy cleaners. These will damage the delicate fabric of your bra and may also irritate your skin.