On top of the all hygiene issues that come with motherhood, there is a select group with a special set of hygiene concerns to worry about. Breastfeeding mothers can have it easier or harder than others depending on perspective but they all share the same hygiene concerns and daily routines involving them.
A mother’s job is 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we don’t get holidays or vacations—just cuddles, kisses and as much boxed wine as our fridge will hold.
Being a mom is a hard under-appreciated job that many of us willingly take on and place ahead of many other roles in our lives. Some of us view it as our highest calling while others simply cannot wait until our kids get to the magical stage of five, eight or twelve and are out of this current difficult stage we have been stuck in forever.
Some of us are dedicated stay-at-home moms while others work part-time (some braving the afternoon meltdowns in the living room as they work from home in the kitchen office), while others work full time and then come home to whip out some mothering.
20 A Soapy Shower Can Do Wonders
We all love showers—as motherhood teaches us the value of alone-time—but when we’re in there all soapy and listening for small people banging on the door, breastfeeding moms need to make sure they aren’t soaping up the tips. This always pertains to applying lotion, anything with alcohol or products with a strong scent.
Rinsing them off and getting clean that way is fine, but Romper tells us that these products, “can damage the skin and increase the likelihood of your [sensitive bits] becoming overly dry and cracked.” That is never good news when we are nursing babies. Best avoid the soap for a while.
19 But Oh, The Pain Of A Shower
We’ve just had a baby and our milk has come in, resulting in our girls getting all hard and engorged. This all sounds great but boy—does it hurt. A hot shower sounds like it would help, right? Well, the water beating down can make the tender breasts hurt and irritate already sore tips even more.
A washcloth over them helps with this. According to Medela, “Use moist heat on the breasts for a few minutes, or take a brief hot shower before breastfeeding. This may help the milk begin to flow. Note: Use of heat for extended periods of time (over 5 minutes) may make swelling worse.”
18 Is That A Wet Spot?
Many busy breastfeeding moms have looked down and noticed a large wet spot on their shirt that wasn’t there before. Some shrug it off while others freak out and change immediately. Regardless, picking the right colored shirt to wear in public in case of leaks becomes second nature. Some colors show the leaks more than others.
As Mom Loves Best tells us, we can get those stains out later,“You’ll want to choose the mildest product possible that gets the job done, but you’ll also need a detergent and stain remover with enzymes in order to break down those stubborn proteins in breast milk.”
17 Clean That Pump!
Most breastfeeding moms have a pump of some sort to help with engorgement. Working moms especially have a pump or two as they depend on them to supply milk to their babies while they are occupied elsewhere. Like anything else involved in food production, however, those pumps need to be cleaned regularly.
As stated by Romper, “According to the FDA, all breast pump parts that come into contact with your milk (like bottles, breast shields, and valves) should be rinsed and washed after every use.”
They do not necessarily have to be sterilized regularly but that would not hurt either.
16 Change It Up Every Once In A While, Girl
One of the must-have items—which we’re supposed to stock up on before baby comes—is nursing bras. There’s no one correct number to have, but we probably want enough to comfortably change regularly—if not everyday—at least every other. We also want enough to last us until laundry day or we’ll be braless in the laundromat.
According to Romper, “They're bound to get dirty much quicker than your bras did before you were breastfeeding, so you may need to get used to swapping them out more often.” At least we get a variety instead of the same tan bra all the time this way.
15 Some Soothing Relief
During the early stages of breastfeeding (and potentially after teeth come in), the nipples can become dry, cracked and painful—which doesn’t help the learning process speed along at all.
Finding and applying a nice nipple cream is essential and just another hygiene concern that only breastfeeding moms have to deal with. The right cream will save us in the long run.
According to The Bump, “As baby perfects his latch, that pain will go away, but in the meantime, finding the best nipple cream for your needs can help. Simply dabbing some on will encourage healing—and a more comfortable breastfeeding experience.”
14 What Is That Smell?
Every breastfeeding mama has been blessed with a spit-up gift from her adorable baby. These gifts are reluctantly received, smell horrible and can stain any outfit horribly.
They are something that every nursing mom learns to deal with as they maneuver through the daily life of caring for their baby—which typically means doing lots of laundry— both theirs and the baby’s!
According to Scary Mommy, “If you’ve ever picked up your baby and then heard the all-too-familiar “splat” on the floor, or if you’ve ever gone through more than five outfit changes in a day, you probably have a spit-up baby.”
13 My Pipes Are Clogged!
For many mothers, a clogged milk duct is a nightmare just waiting to happen. For others, it’s a regular occurrence that they tackle like a pro. Regardless of where we fall on this spectrum, a clogged duct while breastfeeding doesn’t sound or feel too good.
It’s important to get it unclogged again as soon as possible to forestall loads of unnecessary pain and potential infection. That’s where the baby comes in. According to The Bump, “Nursing is one of the most natural interactions a mother can have with her newborn, but the experience is different for every woman, and it’s not always perfect.”
If all else fails, pump that clog out—and yes, the reddish pink-tinged milk is normal.
12 There Is No Better Sanitation Method Than A Good Hand Washing
Our own mothers told us to wash our hands every day and now we tell our kids the same thing. According to Caring For You and Your Baby, “Proper hand washing is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading diseases, such as colds, the flu, and some stomach problems. Washing your hands helps get rid of germs that you come in contact with during your day.”
We especially want to wash our own hands before touching our girls and nursing the brand new baby we just had. A sick baby is miserable and scary for new moms.
11 Don't Forget To Alternate Pads
Nursing pads—whether reusable or disposable—are great for soaking up those extra leaks or adding a second barrier before the leaks reach our shirt. They need to be monitored and changed frequently, though.
As Romper puts it, “If you use nursing pads to soak up any excess milk or leakage, be sure to change them frequently. Verywell Family warned that leaving nursing pads in too long creates the perfect warm, wet, and sugary breeding ground for bacteria or yeast to grow.”
That just sounds so fun and yummy, doesn’t it? Washing the reusable pads or tossing out the disposable is a lot easier than dealing with an infection.
10 Salty And Sweaty All At The Same Time
After having a baby, most of us want to start working out and losing what pregnancy blessed us with as soon as we reasonably can. While breastfeeding itself does help us achieve our goals in that regard, exercising is still the primary manner to stay fit and healthy (as well as a healthy diet).
The baby—however—might object to his meal tasting too salty. Therefore, a post-workout shower is always a good idea.
As Romper puts it, “Although there isn't any change to the actual composition of your breastmilk if you workout, your baby may object to nursing if your breasts are sweaty post-workout.”
9 But It’s Just Too Tight!
Our breasts are fairly large now and they are going to make frequent appearances throughout the day for meals and snacks. Thus, it's suddenly very important to reevaluate our wardrobe and find something loose-fitting and comfortable that has easy breast access to wear.
Those tight evening dresses might have to take a back-burner for a while. As Romper tells us, “There's nothing worse or more [unpleasant] than having to sit in a wet bra due to a messy nursing session or leaking, so be sure to buy bras that fit properly and give you enough space for a nursing pad to absorb excess moisture.”
8 I’m Sleeping In A Puddle!
In the beginning stages of breastfeeding, we leak all the time everywhere and even at night between feedings. This can result in wet blankets and pajamas. As the baby grows and weans a bit in the night feedings, the leaks can come back for a while.
Changing the bed-sheets might not be an option every day, but there are other ways we can deal with this annoyance. As Alpha Mom points out in her list of tips, “Of course, not every woman’s body flips the switch in the same time frame—some women leak for a few days, a week, sometimes more, as their babies dial back on the night feedings.”
7 Wash The Baby’s Hands
As the baby grows and begins to explore her surroundings, daily routines shift to accommodate this change and one of those routines to change affects breastfeeding. Now that we’ve seen where baby’s hands have been all day, do we really want those hands on our breasts?
According to Parent Hub, “Until babies are old enough to do this and begin washing with soap and water, the recommended way to wash their hands is with a pre-moistened, disposable towel. Soap and a warm wet cloth is another option for wiping baby’s hands.”
Plus a clean hand tastes so much better than a dirty one.
6 All About That Pump
Many moms who pump do extensive research before purchasing their breast pump and some of that research includes telling the difference between a closed system pump and an open system pump. Closed system pumps can be resold and used by different people with no problem.
But as The Pumping Mommy tells us, “An open system pump is not sanitary for multiple users. They are designed to be used by only one user for the lifetime of the pump.” So when the option to save money and buy a used pump is available, we need to double-check the pump design before we buy it.
5 Proper Milk Storage Is A Must
Not exactly something we’d ever thought we’d be concerned with until after we started nursing and pumping, but milk storage is vital to saving every last drop of that precious liquid we made ourselves.
We need it all for baby and making it is hard work so we can’t afford to store it wrong and have it go bad before we can use it.
Using the right containers, organizing systems and everything can make it seem complicated, but as The Bump reassures us in their storage article, “Being smart about breast milk storage is no doubt a science—but don’t worry, we’ve made it easy.”
4 Wash The Bottles Every Time
We all know to wash our hands, sterilize the pump and bottles before the first use and store the milk properly. One more thing for breastfeeding moms to do is wash those milky bottles after every use. This should be done preferably before the milk residue has had time to make the bottle all…milky.
After air-drying the bottles, we’re all set for the next feeding session with germ-free minds.
According to Today’s Parent, “For future feedings of healthy babies drinking expressed breast milk, it’s sufficient to wash with hot, soapy water and let air-dry, or put them through the dishwasher.”
3 I Think Baby Is Sick
Nursing a sick baby sounds daunting at first, especially to a new mom. Unless it’s a very serious issue or thrush (which mom and baby can give back to each other while nursing), we shouldn’t worry too much about nursing our little one while they're under the weather. We just wash our hands, their hands and the breast a bit more frequently than usual.
According to Verywell Family, “There are antibodies in breast milk that can shorten the length of the illness and allow your baby to recover more quickly.” Breastmilk won’t prevent baby from ever being sick but it will sure help speed up the recovery process.
2 The Tale Of The Dirty Faced Baby
So, the baby has been crawling around exploring and adventuring all day and now suddenly wants his nap and nursing session. But wait—what is all that smeared across baby’s face?! The obvious thing to do here is to grab a wet washcloth, smother baby’s face lovingly to remove most of the grim and put the little monster to bed so we can have a break.
Just like hands, dirt on the face is a little "ick" when breastfeeding. According to Parenting, “Give your baby a tub bath twice a week until she starts eating solids and crawling—getting dirtier. Soap can irritate baby's skin, so skip it or choose mild, scent-free products.”
That said, as the baby gets older, remember that actual dirt and soil have beneficial microbes that boost babe's immune system. Let them play outside!
1 If You're Feeling Modest
Before we had a baby, we didn’t worry about a ton of stuff—including things like if we have breast access with that dress or if the nursing cover clashes horribly with our outfit. The fact that some of us might actually need a nursing cover when out and about can be something to get used to.
Plus, those covers then get milk or dirt on them (sometimes spit-up too) and add to our milky laundry load. According to Mom Loves Best in their nursing cover review article, “What you need are the best nursing covers to keep your business private while your child gets all the nutrient-rich breast milk he can.”
References: Medela, Romper, Mom Loves Best, The Bump, Scary Mommy, The Bump, Caring For You and Your Baby, Alpha Mom, Parent Hub, The Pumping Mommy, The Bump, Today's Parent, Verywell Family, Parenting, Mom Loves Best, Verywell Family