Preparing to Breastfeed

Updated on July 14, 2011
A.F. asks from Allentown, PA
18 answers

Hi wonderful Moms!
I am expecting my 2nd son in a few weeks. I was not very successful breastfeeding my first child but am looking forward to giving it another go with my second. I recently heard from someone to start rubbing my nipples with a washcloth to help desensitize them to make breastfeeding easier...??? I have never heard this and thought she was nuts! Haha! I see the reasoning behind it, so curious if this is for real? Anyone do this? Any other tips you have to prepare myself is greatly appreciated! How were you successful?

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answers from Allentown on

That is an old wives tale, and you should ignore it. You don't intentionally damage tissue as a way of protecting tissue!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I would go to a lactation class or see a consultant. I hear they are awesome!
I would really try not to go to the Le Leche League.

Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

I never did it and don't think it would help.

I got support. Find out who the good LCs are in your area. Call them now. Have a pre-birth meeting. Maybe meet other moms in a class. Know their warm line number.

Bookmark and similar sites.

Give yourself at least 6 weeks. The first weeks are so bleary. It's a learning experience for you both. Every week got better for us.

Find a way to include your other child. Maybe make nursing time for the baby book reading time for him, or he gets to watch a special show on TV or something.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

To make breastfeeding easier - check out the videos on the website:

Also, never forgot to check into free or supportive help - like Le Leche League, many WIC departments have FREE IBCLCs!! IBCLCs are the top of the line, next comes the CLC, then LC, then peer support counselor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Actually, don't rub your nipples. You can stimulate them too much and bring on contractions. Honestly, the best thing you can do to prepare is get yourself a good support system and make sure your husband is on board. While at the hospital, be sure to talk with a lactation specialist daily.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My MIL told me to do that too - my OB said it was not really necessary - and I never did it.

My tips (after nursing 3 babies) are:
If you haven't - take a class at your hospital (I know you are close to your due date - but if you can squeeze it in do it) Or - meet with a lactation consultant before hand for tips from an expert.

Be prepared to nurse all the time for the first few weeks. Don't try to schedule feedings - just nurse whenever your baby wakes up, fusses, sucks on their fingers, or roots around when you are holding them. My MIL kept telling me to wait longer to nurse my baby ("didn't you just feed that baby?" or "are you feeding that baby again?") but I ignored her. My SIL ended up supplementing all her babies with formula...

Try to get help with you older child so you can focus on yourself and your new baby. My husband was able to take time off after #2 and #3 were each born, and it made it so much easier. It also made it easier for me to give direct attention to the older children while he held the new ones when I needed that time.

GOod luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Not necessary. Like pretty much as everyone's mentioned, take a class and go to a lactation consultant before and after delivery. Lanolin does help. I asked for it at the hospital and they gave me several trial sized tubes. The brand I used both times, and which the hospital provided, was Lansinoh. They sell it at Target and Babies R Us for $10-12 a tube. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I've never heard of that, but I don't think you need to; you pretty much get used to after you have the baby. What really helped me with my first one is visiting a lactation consultant; I had a horrible time trying to breastfeed my first one, but after I saw the lactation consultant we were able to figure it out. A lot of hospitals actually have lactation consultants on staff who come and visit you in your room after the baby is born, so see if your hospital has that and request it if you need to. With my second son, the hospital had a lactation consultation visit me an hour after he was born to remind me how it was done. He latched on with no problems (thank goodness!!). Good luck, and congratulations!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My LC told us about it in the class I took before my son was born. She said that there are those who believe in it, but she does not believe it's necessary.

I would definitely take a class. I learned so much! Definitely feed on demand, and don't be surprised if baby wants to feed all the time. This can happen. It sucks if you can't sleep, but if it's happening then baby is hungry and needs to feed.

One thing that can really help with the soreness in the beginning is lanolin cream. My LC gave me a tube when each of my kids were born. I just put it on after every feeding, and more often if I needed it. It was so helpful.

Just relax, keep a positive attitude, and let the LC watch you the first few times. Also, if the nurses have advice, just take it in stride and do what works. Some of the advice I got from the nurses conflicted, and it took us (my husband and I) a couple of days to be comfortable discerning for ourselves what was working and what wasn't.

You'll do great!


answers from Richmond on

Start rubbing lanolin on your nipples now (especially after showering). This was told to me AFTER my first was born, and was SOOOO HELPFUL the next 2 times!!



answers from Dallas on

The best advice I have is to attend a LLL meeting before you have your baby. It's free, the information is excellent and just hanging around with nursing mothers and babies is one of the best things you can do to build your confidence and your odds of success.


answers from Sarasota on

Haha, I did that before baby but it didn't help. I'm not sure that anything can prepare you for a baby latching on. But the discomfort is so temporary (like 6 weeks or so) that it's all worth it anyway. My recommendation is that if things are hard (the baby isn't latching, if it hurts, etc) do everything you can to keep your milk supply up. Pump as much as you can and still try to get baby on. I did it and am so glad I didn't give up! It was so worth how hard it was. I also got a nipple shield which was a LIFESAVER!! People tell you not to because it confuses baby.... but that was not the case for me. My baby would not latch on so I used a nipple shield for a few weeks. It helped ease me into the discomfort because it wasn't rubbing my skin raw (so much more comfortable) and it was more like a bottle to the baby. After a couple weeks, I started cutting the shield shorter so that the baby would get more of the actual nipple and then finally I took it off. I didn't stress if the baby would freak out and want it back on... I'd just put it back on. Finally I waited until he was mostly asleep and slipped off the shield and he's been nursing ever since (now 7 months). It really did help! I wouldn't recommend using it for months on end, but I would definitely give it a try if you're having issues with it. Best of luck!!



answers from Philadelphia on

I was terrified of nursing my second because the excruciating pain of beginning nursing my first child was still so vivid. Maybe my experience is unique, but I only felt minor discomfort when I started nursing my second and my third children (not that it was problem-free by any means!). I agree with numerous previous posters, be prepared with a great lactation consultant in your area and if you are unsure of the latch or feeling moderate pain or greater, get help early on, which is what I did with my second and it was so much better. Good luck! You may be surprised at how much easier nursing is the second time around. :)



answers from Los Angeles on

Don't do that! OUCH! With my second child I had a few problems and had to see a lactation consultant. I was actually surprised since I breastfed my first till she was 2.5. Thought I was a pro! LOL!. That being said, one of the best things she said to me was, "If it hurts, something is wrong" bad latch, etc.. In my sons case, we didn't get the latch right until about week 10 or 11! Now, that's a long time to take him off and put him back on over and over and over and over... but eventually he got it and I never had cracked/bleeding nipples. I would have had I let him stay on me with a poor latch.

Posting your question here is great, but I'd also find a lactation consultant now - better to talk to one before baby comes, ask any questions you may have and then have her available if needed after baby is here.

Best wishes to you and your baby on the way!!



answers from Washington DC on

I've heard that too, but don't really buy it. I've never gotten confirmation from anyone on this, but I think that gently trying to express a few drops once or twice a day before delivery really helped my milk come in strong once the baby was born this time around. At first nothing came out, but then it increased to a few drops each time I tried. This last baby (#4) has been my best experience with bfing out of all four kids. I told the lactation consultant at the hospital this, though, and she looked at me like I was crazy.

After your baby arrives, if you get a good latch, your nipples should not hurt. They shouldn't need to be 'toughened up' beforehand. My best 'latching on' trick is to wait until the newborn really opens his mouth, like a baby bird! Then swoop in with the boob. The more of your areola he's got in his mouth the better.

Best of luck with your delivery and with breastfeeding!



answers from Seattle on

I used (Hallelujuah!!!!) nipple shields that my lactation consultant tossed my way, but you can buy them online for about $5. You only need 1, unless you have twins. Lanolin allergies run in my husband's family, so I didn't want to use lanolin at all (come to find, kiddo is fine, but that was just one worry I didn't want). It was screeching painful when my nipples got raw after a day or two, but a few weeks of nipple shields and then no pain whatsoever when I quit using them. Love, love, love nipple shields!!! They're just clear silicone/plastic things that fit over your areola. They're especially designed for women who are so engorged (like I was, now I'm big to start at a DDD, but each of my breasts was bigger than my head. I became Anime Girl, giant freakin' boobs, little tiny nipples!) that there is no way for a baby to latch, but they were AWESOME at preventing rawness after my breasts reduced in size/and got soft again a week later. Lovely things, nipple shields.



answers from Yakima on

Congrats and good for you being willing to try nursing again!!

I was surprised with my first child that no one told me how painful it was to start nursing. I remember the toe-curling pain of the latch on (sorry not to scare you :) but my daughter had a small mouth and was not good at latching on. I got blisters and my nipples even bled! I got through it and nursed her until she was 9 months, I dried up due to going back to work and not being successful at pumping :(

Now with my second child I was prepared for the pain that I Knew would only last a couple of weeks. I think that it is just something that nursing mothers have to deal with and go through. I don't think there is any "preparing" of the nipples.

I would suggest going braless at home, or shirtless if you are comfortable in front of your other child. I did this and it helped a lot. That is all I did. I am sure there are other Mommas out there who used products that helped. But if you are on a tight budget like me, I didn't buy anything. :)

Good Luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

I had much more milk with my 2nd. My baby nurse said this always happens. Rubbing with a washcloth doesn't work. The best way to avoid soreness is to nurse on each side for 10 mins and switch and witch again if baby needs more. It won't decrease hind milk and will be much less painful for you. good luck!

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