There’s a whole world of crazy stuff that pregnant women are told to do, and rubbing their nipples with sandpaper is high on that list.
The idea behind doing this is to toughen up your nipples for breastfeeding.
I get it.
The minds of the (I’m assuming) men that decided this was a necessary thing do to while pregnant probably had good intentions. I mean, realistically your tender nipples that were once tenderly caressed during passionate lovemaking (yeah, remember pre-kid sex??) will be continually suckled on by a ravenous baby.
Your breasts won’t have any idea what’s coming to them, but guess what? They’ll learn.
The human body is pretty fascinating. There’s this whole blog post that I wrote about nipples, but I did forget to mention in there that they will toughen as your breastfeeding journey continues on. There will be some initial discomfort as your body adjusts, but it should be minor. If your nipples are super sore it’s not because they’re weak, it’s because you probably need to get some help with your latch. Contact your Midwife, OBGYN, or pop down to your local Health Unit to see a Lactation Consultant. Breastfeeding isn’t always super enjoyable, but it shouldn’t be painful- at least not until your kiddo has those front four dagger-like teeth that chomp down on your nipple when you’re least expecting it and you say words that you didn’t even say during childbirth.
(*I haven’t breastfed for years, but even thinking about this occurrence makes me shiver.*)
So, how do you get tough titties for breastfeeding? You don’t.
What you do is enjoy them while they’re yours and not attached to a small child. If enjoying them to you means rubbing them with sandpaper (you kinky vixen, you) then, by all means, do that, but don’t do it because Great-Aunt Mildred did it back in her day (you know, before women’s rights and extensive medical research).
Yep, it is as nasty as it sounds. Alongside things like blocked ducts, cracks, and blisters, Mastitis is a potential medical condition that can occur while breastfeeding.
Mastitis is inflammation in the breast tissue or milk ducts, in all or a portion of the breast. It can be caused by a variety of things, one of the most common being reducing the amount you’re breastfeeding. Yep-you can thank your baby and the massive growth spurt they just came down from (just kidding, you can’t blame your baby, obviously. Blame your partner. )
If you’re reading this you probably have symptoms of mastitis (flu-like symptoms, hard breast, redness in breast tissue, swollen breast) or have been diagnosed with mastitis and are waiting for me to get to the part on how the heck to deal with it. Okay, here goes:
How to deal with Mastitis
(First thing first, my friend: I’m not a doctor. However, I’m a Mama who’s breastfed 4 babies and has had mastitis. I’m also a Postpartum Doula and have helped other Mamas with mastitis.
The information that I’m about to share with you is based on my personal experience of what’s worked, which is information based on research that I’ve done from reputable sources.)
Your body is fighting an infection. You’re going to be run down. You’re going to be sore.
Give yourself some time to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and be kind to your body. Bring your baby into bed and grab a good book! Find someone to take care of any other children you have-right now you need to take care of you!
Feed that baby
You are going to want to continually drain the breast that has been affected by Mastitis. Put baby on that breast as often as possible-start with this breast every time you feed. Try different positions to see which one encourages baby to take the most milk. If your baby isn’t super into feeding as much as you need try some gentle hand expression or a pump.
Heat, heat, heat
Use a hot compress or warmed washcloth and apply it to the affected breast. The best tip, though? Get in the shower (lock the door to the bathroom, eh?), let the warm water do it’s magic, and very gently massage your breast to relieve some of the swelling. (This is a double positive- you get some relief and some time to yourself.
Do one or the other before every feeding to encourage milk flow. Make sure you don’t make your heat source excessively hot, however. You could cause damage to the skin.
See your doctor
Don’t hesitate to see your doctor right away if you have symptoms of Mastitis. Mastitis can get worse quickly and can build into even nastier things, like an abscess.
If you notice that you’re not getting relief within a few hours of the onset of symptoms be sure to book an appointment as soon as possible. Sometimes, antibiotics are necessary to get rid of the infection.
Your partner is rearing to go. It’s been a while, let’s face it. The last month of pregnancy was essentially a no-go in the sex department, understandably. You were beautifully very pregnant, overheated, overhormoned, and overwhelmed. Sex could have been a consideration if sitting on the couch eating an entire watermelon wasn’t the other option. (Don’t even tell me I’m the only pregnant woman to ever eat an entire watermelon in one sitting…)
After a long month of hearing “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I CAN’T EVEN SEE THE VAGINA YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH” topped with approximately 6 weeks of strict orders to avoid sexual relations your partner, and perhaps you are ready to get back in the saddle again.
Bow chicka wow wow.
So far, you’ve experienced change in every aspect of your life since welcoming your little person to the world. Don’t expect a change in sex after giving birth to be any less drastic.
There are a few things you should know before having sex after giving birth:
-Just because you’ve been given the go-ahead from your medical health professional doesn’t mean you have to have sex. It’s a personal thing and when you feel ready you’ll know. There are loads of variables that contribute to a person wanting to, or not wanting to have sex. Just because your friend is resuming her vivacious sex life (for now…wait until that kid is a bit older) doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. Live vicariously through her for now and you do you (literally) when you’re ready.
-Your partner may be into being sprayed by your let down, but if not keep it contained by wearing a bra with breast pads.
-Go slow. The last time your vagina was getting attention it was because there was a freakin’ baby coming out of it. Show the gal some love by making sure that you go slow until you’re fully comfortable with speeding up the pace.
-On the note of vaginal loving, make sure you stay lubricated, too. You’re probably a little nervous and the lovely array of hormones that are coursing through your body aren’t helping on the natural lubrication front.
-Figure out birth control before resuming sexual activity. Clearly, the one you were using last didn’t work;)
-I was kidding about the looking at your vagina thing. You do need to acknowledge the change that’s occurred in your body. It really is the only way you’re going to get back to being comfortable. Grab a mirror and get reacquainted with your beautiful body (p.s. scars from perineum stitches look super badass.)
-Maybe give the whole thing a whirl on your own before with a partner. Explore your changed body and see what feels right and what doesn’t. Share this information with your partner so that they can modify their actions to accommodate to what works for you.
Acknowledge and accept that sex after childbirth is different than sex before childbirth-for a while, anyway.
There are different sensations, sounds, even smells. You may have a hard time focussing or getting in the mood. It’s normal to experience these changes. However, if you are finding that it’s been a great deal of time since giving birth and you still are uninterested in sexual activity you may want to discuss it with your healthcare provider to rule out things such as Postpartum Depression.
Sex after birth is a new experience, and it truly can be a great one. Explore. Communicate with your partner. Laugh (yeah, I’m serious).
There are 3 elements that come with sex after birth: Physical, mental, and emotional. In “Let’s talk about sex (after having a baby)” you’ll dive deep into what these mean, the problems that many couples face, and steps you can take to a better sex life NOW!
What are you waiting for? You deserve a better sex life, you gorgeous vixen!
There’s a natural progression in the fascination with nipples as we grow:
Childhood: I’m going to play with these things on my chest and repeatedly say the word nipple.
Pre-Adolescence: Everyone gets a Purple Nurple!
Early Adolescence: Nipples rising!!
Late Adolescence: I’m going to let other people play with these things on my chest.
Adulthood: WTF is coming out of there?
Nipples are fascinating. They’re a lot more than a little (or big) protrusion on your chest/breast. There are a few things you’ll learn for yourself along the way (like the many, many sensory receptors in the nipple) but there are a few things you may not know yet.
Here are some fascinating facts about nipples (you need to know before breastfeeding)
Nipples are erogenous zones for a lot of folks. This means that nipple stimulation can often trigger a sexual arousal response. In fact, scientists have shown that stimulation of the nipples transmits to the brain the same way as from stimulation from the clitoris, vagina, and cervix. Just be careful…a little nipple play can get you into more trouble than you can imagine.
Your nipples can change colour and shape in pregnancy. As your breasts grow and change your nipples do, as well.
Your areola (the area surrounding your nipple) will likely get larger and darker throughout your pregnancy. This is so, and get ready for this, your baby can find your nipple easier!!! How amazing is that!
Remember that first fun fact? Nipple stimulation to induce labour has been an idea that’s been floating around for quite some time. While some folks swear by it, there are others who say that it’s ineffective or causes labour contractions that are stronger than normal. ALWAYS talk to your midwife or OBGYN/healthcare provider before doing anything to bring on labour (no matter how desperate you are or how many go-aheads you get in a Facebook group).
There are lots of different types of nipples. They come in different shapes and sizes: flat, inverted, protruding, or unclassified. Some of these characteristics can make breastfeeding a little more challenging, so if you’re having difficulties it may be worthwhile to talk to your midwife or OBGYN/healthcare provider, or lactation consultant to find out the best way to breastfeed with your nipple type.
Nipple pain is normal…to a point. Breastfeeding shouldn’t cause a whole ton of pain, so again, if you’re experiencing pain that is intolerable you may need to source out some help.
The average height of a nipple is 0.9 cm….unless you’ve breastfed 4 kids. Then, you’re likely carrying around nipples that resemble AA batteries.
Trying to find the perfect lipstick? Your ideal match of lipstick is the colour of your nipple! Now, if only there was a way of figuring that out in the makeup store without being too obvious…
Nipples can leak breastmilk without any extra help. While some folks require hand expression or a breast pump to extract milk, others experience a “free pour”. Using some good quality breast pads can reduce circle stains on the front of your shirt!
Do you have any other fascinating facts about nipples you think should be shared?
Also, if anyone has found their perfect lipstick colour please share how you got it!
You’ve just given birth. It’s entirely likely that you’re struggling to cough without being in immense pain or that you’re unable to pee without using a Peri-bottle to clean up.
Everything below your rib cage has been stretched out, torn up, and is inflicting a whole new sensation of pain that you’ve never experienced before.
Everything above your ribcage may be feeling a little tender at the moment, but the potential for pain that far surpasses anything during childbirth (thanks, Oxytocin) is lingering close by.
Pain in childbirth: we all know about that. We talk about it freely. We see it in movies. However, nobody talks about the pain you might feel after childbirth. Healing from birth, uterine contractions, and hip pains are often present once you’ve delivered baby, but what about breastfeeding?
First things first, this post is not meant to deter you from breastfeeding. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. This post is simply meant to prepare you for possible outcomes and how to prevent them!
I breastfed four babies for a total of many years, and I experienced a gamete of complications from blisters, to blocked ducts, to mastitis. My least favourite of all those experiences was cracked, blistered nipples, so that’s what we’re going to chat about here!
First of all, this is a big, huge, massive reminder:
THIS IS A LEARNING PROCESS. You and your baby are learning how to breastfeed. Try to take a deep breath and give yourself grace and patience.
Okay, onto scary nipple blister talk.
A nipple blister is on the nipple or areola and is usually caused by a latch that is not quite correct. When baby’s mouth is not covering the correct amount of area on the areola their tongue and roof of their mouth pinches the nipple causing a blister. Cracks are developed the same way.
These nipple blisters and cracking can be no thang for some folks, but for others (like your old pal here) it can be absolutely excruciating.
Here are some steps for if you’re experiencing pain caused by nipple blisters and cracks:
(Hey, big ol’ P.S. here: I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. This is me sharing my experience and course of action for nipple blisters.)
Keep breastfeeding. This will pass.
Make sure you have a proper latch. This is a great video on how to get that latch. If you’re still struggling to get comfortable contact your local La Leche League, public health unit, or lactation consultant.
Don’t pop that blister. It’s tempting, I know, but it’ll hurt a lot more in the long run. It’s best to leave it be. Plus, it probably looks pretty gnarly, so whenever your partner is complaining about ANYTHING you can just whip it out. You’ll be surprised how quickly the whining stops.
Take a breastfeeding friendly pain relief medication. Goodness gracious, you’ve been through a lot. A little relief you deserve!
Try different positions. Lay down. Football hold. Cradle hold. You may find some comfort in a different position as there won’t be so much friction on just one side.
Go topless. Perhaps it’s wise to not do this in public, but when you’re at home try and get as much air to your nipples as possible. Also, when you’re done nursing express some breastmilk and let it dry on the nipple blister.
If you’re concerned or the blister won’t go away go see your doctor. You have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your babe.
I’ll tell ya: this can be a real mental challenge. I remember giving myself pep talks before nursing my baby when I had cracked, blistered nipples. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to demand sympathy from anyone and everyone around you. (P.S. Feel free to message me on Facebook anytime with this request. I will happily offer you some commiseration.)
Ask a 4 year old about postpartum poo and they’ll begin laughing hysterically and making farting sounds. (P.S. They don’t know what “postpartum poo” is and they don’t care. You said “poo”.)
Ask a woman who’s given birth about postpartum poo and her response will let you know that this shit ain’t funny.
Your body has just experienced a majorly traumatic experience. Labour is traumatic. Delivery is traumatic. Hemorrhoids are traumatic. Breastfeeding is traumatic. Parenting is traumatic.
Having a kid is just one big trauma fest, really.
I mean, don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of joy and happiness in having a baby, too, but holy Toledo can it be a massive pain in the ass.
Okay, so I’m about to get nice and graphic for you here. If you don’t like talking about poo or you’re still recovering from your own postpartum poo and the thought alone triggers you to clench up so tight you have near buns of steel, then perhaps this blog post isn’t for you.
However, if you’re like the SO MANY women out there who are about to bring a child into the world and haven’t been informed of the truth about the postpartum poo you most definitely need to read on.
Ok, so you’ve delivered your beautiful little baby. Chances are your bowels were evacuated when you were splayed on the table in front of a team of doctors and nurses while your partner caught the whole thing on camera, so you may not feel the need to have a poo for a few days. This is a good thing. You need a few days to load up on soluble fiber, stool softeners, and so much water.
Understandably, when you do feel the urge to push you get a little anxious. After all, the last thing to come out of your body was a baby. While that’s not likely to happen again so immediately, you probably still feel a bit uneasy about the whole thing. However, holding it in WILL NOT do you any service. That shit will just build up, compacting as it does. You’ll be taking “shitting bricks” to a whole new level if you don’t take care of business as soon as the opportunity arises.
Just as birth is different for everybody, so is the postpartum poo. Some poor souls have a 40 hour labour, spend hours pushing, and wind up with first-degree tearing while others deliver their babies after a mild cramp and a sneeze. The same ridiculously unfair comparison applies to the postpartum poo. You may be spending a great deal of uncomfortable time on the toilet, or you may be simply pretending to do so behind a locked door while yelling “I’m almost done. *grunt*” and catching up on your Facebook gossip.
Once you’re finished not pooping out a baby (I mention this fact because I’m sure you considered that was a possibility at least once during this process) you need to give yourself a good, relieving cleaning. Remember that peri-bottle your beautiful midwife or doctor gave you? Yep-that thing will offer as a wonderful substitute for the toilet paper that will feel like sandpaper on your poor bits. It will also make you wonder why you don’t live in France, or at the very least, own a bidet.
You may experience a bit of residual discomfort once you’re all finished. Have you heard of a padsicle? Wet down maxi pad in witch hazel and throw it in the freezer for a bit. Once it’s nice and cooled down slap that baby into your super sexy mesh hospital panties or your super sexy granny panties. This will give some relief to your stretched out vagina (don’t look yet-I’m warning you), those hemorrhoids that are lurking, and your poor anus that truly doesn’t know what just hit it.
Rest assured that any poops subsequent to this first postpartum poo won’t be nearly as traumatizing. Well, not any of yours, anyway…