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True! Sucking pregnant woman’s breast makes baby’s breastfeeding easier after delivery

Photo Credit: The Sun Nigeria 4 mins read

Claim: Sucking a pregnant woman’s breast prepares her for breastfeeding after delivery.

The claim that sucking a pregnant woman’s breast prepares her for breastfeeding after delivery is true. However, it is not suitable for all pregnant women.

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On August 5, 2021, a Chief Nursing Sister, Roseline Oladimeji, advised pregnant women to allow their husbands to suck their breasts to prepare them for breastfeeding after delivery.

She said, “Allow your husbands to suck your breasts during pregnancy. Apart from bonding, it will help the nipples to be out and make it easier for your baby to latch on.

‘You can also rub Vaseline on your nipples at night before going to sleep. It also helps to soften it (the breasts)’. the nursing sister added.

She urged pregnant women to prepare their breasts during pregnancy to avoid lactation problems after delivery.

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What is Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is when a mother feeds her baby breast milk, usually directly from the breast, and it is also called nursing. Breast milk has been said to provide an infant with essential calories, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for optimal growth, health and development. Breastfeeding is beneficial to both a mother and her infant and also offers an important opportunity for the pair to bond.

According to the World Health Organization, WHO breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life. And, while some infants born at term can breastfeed directly following birth, some term infants and many preterm infants may not be able to do so for various reasons and thus require feeding by alternative methods.

These methods may include cups, spoons, syringes, parental feeding tubes or feeding bottles or treats. However, the inability to breastfeed directly may be only temporary or permanent depending on the reasons behind it.

One of such reasons is because breastfeeding hurts. Pain while breastfeeding is usually down to sore, tender nipples, especially once the milk ‘comes in’ around two or four days after giving birth. With the baby feeding every couple of hours, it means the problem can worsen quickly with some mothers finding their nipples crack, bleed, or become blistered.

So, does sucking a pregnant woman’s breast really prepare her for breastfeeding after delivery?

The Chief Medical Director, Mother and Child Hospital Akure, Dr Banke Oluwafemi, said it is true sucking a pregnant woman’s breast helps breastfeeding after delivery but it is not applicable and suitable to all pregnant women.

she said “it is true because it will help the nipples to shoot out. and the alternative is that when the woman is having her bath, she uses her hand to pull out the nipples. But there are some women that can not stand that stage of pregnancy. But it is also good to find solutions to whatever issues that could arise, so that there won’t be frustration between the mother and the baby in terms of breastfeeding subsequently.”

“For women with retracted nipples, there are existing methods we use in the hospital like syringes. It is true but not all pregnant women can tolerate this, because she could get stimulated which could lead to an irritable uterus and she could start contracting which is not a palatable condition and that is why such a method is only feasible for women who can tolerate it.” she added.

A Consultant Pediatrician with the University of Medical Science Teaching Hospital, Ondo, UNIMEDTH, Dr. Olasehinde Bello, said it is medically correct that sucking a pregnant woman’s breast helps breastfeeding after delivery but the society does not encourage it.

He said, “it is true to a large extent but because of the peculiarities of our environment such things have really not been spoken off. However, the most important thing is for the areola to get stimulated and other methods come into play here. But it is good to note that breast pumps are not good stimulants and as such we advocate that the woman uses her fingers to stimulate the areolas.”

He also added that the baby also stimulates the breast after delivery by sucking it because the more the baby sucks, the more the mother lactates (produces milk).

This position is also supported by the World Health Organization WHO, which reveals that infants should be put to the mother’s breast shortly after birth to keep skin to skin contact when they have the strongest instinct to suckle the mother’s nipples.

Other studies also show that to stimulate the nipples and remove milk from the breast, while ensuring an adequate supply and a good flow of milk, a baby needs to be well attached so that a baby can suckle effectively. Difficulties are said to occur only because a baby does not take the breast into its mouth properly and does fail to suckle effectively.

Conclusion

The claim that sucking a pregnant woman’s breast prepares her for breastfeeding after delivery is true. However, it is not suitable for all pregnant women as some of them get irritable uteruses or start to contract a major health challenge during pregnancy.

The researcher produced this fact check article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Crest FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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