If you’re expecting a baby, you might be wondering if you need to do anything to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding. In fact, you may have read or even been told you need to do so. One common piece of advice is that you should be toughening up nipples for nursing.
Or perhaps you’ve heard horror stories of other women’s badly damaged nipples, and wondered if there might be anything you can do now to help prevent this from happening to you.
But is this true? Is there actually anything you need to start toughening up your nipples in preparation for breastfeeding?
Or is this just yet another breastfeeding myth?
Toughening Up Nipples For Nursing
Here are 6 things you need to know about toughening up nipples for nursing.
#1: Toughing Up Nipples For Nursing Is A Myth
It’s possible that your grandmother may have rubbed her nipples regularly with a wet cloth in the name of preparing them for breastfeeding. She may even have had it suggested to her that building callouses on her nipples was to be aimed for.
But just before you run to get a cloth and start rubbing, you need to know that rubbing nipples with a cloth is nothing like breastfeeding.
When a baby breastfeeds and is latched on deeply, your nipple tip is far back in your baby’s mouth and this helps protect against any nipple damage and helps make breastfeeding comfortable.
Yep, toughening up nipples for nursing is a myth!
#2: Toughening Up Nipples May Be Harmful
Rubbing your nipples may actually lead to cracks developing even before breastfeeding has begun!
Also, rubbing your nipples with a wet cloth may remove some of the protective secretion that is produced by the little bumps (called Montgomery glands) which surround your nipple on your areola.
This secretion can also help your baby find his or her was to your nipples after birth.
#3. Prenatal Treatment Of Inverted Nipples Is Not Recommended
According to Australia’s leading health organisation, the National Health and Medical Research Council, antenatal treatment of inverted nipples is not recommended because it has been found to be ineffective and associated with a negative impact on breastfeeding.
#4: Your Body Naturally Does All The Necessary Nipple Preparation
You may have noticed that during pregnancy the colour of your areolas and nipples darkening and possibly enlarging. These changes are hormonal responses to your pregnancy and help prepare your nipples for breastfeeding.
#5: No Nipple Ointments Are Necessary
There are some nipple products on the market which claim they’re necessary to prepare nipples for breastfeeding. However, there’s no evidence that use of such products during pregnancy assists with breastfeeding.
Knowledge And Support Are The Best Ways To Prepare
When it comes to breastfeeding, the best ways you can prepare is to build a support network around you and gain knowledge about breastfeeding from reputable sources such as BellyBelly. There’s simply no need to toughen up nipples for nursing, nor is there any evidence to support it.
Be sure to read our article Essential Breastfeeding Guide For Pregnant Women – 10 Top Tips