Prenatal Nipple Conditioning for Breastfeeding

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Twenty-two primigravida women who planned to breastfeed began conditioning their nipples six weeks before their expected delivery date by nipple rolling twice a day for two minutes each time; providing gentle friction against the nipple with a terry cloth towel for 15 seconds once a day; and nipple airing for two hours a day, allowing outer clothing to rub against the nipple. Each woman served as her own control, conditioning one nipple but not the other. No nipple ointments or soap were used on either nipple during the course of the study. Each woman was given instructions on breastfeeding techniques to be used after delivery. The women completed two checklists: One revealed how consistently they followed the nipple-conditioning regime: with the other, they rated nipple pain on each breast, for every nursing, during the first five days postdelivery. Ratings were: 1—negligible pain or no pain, 2—definite pain, 3—extreme pain. Seventeen women successfully completed the study. Effect of skin color on the amount of nipple pain was also investigated. The prenatal nipple-conditioning regime significantly reduced the amount of total nipple pain experienced during the first few days of breastfeeding. The amount of extreme pain experienced on the conditioned nipple was significantly (p<.01) reduced compared to the control nipple. Fair-skinned women reported more nipple soreness on unconditioned nipples, and olive-complected women reported significantly (p<.01) less nipple soreness on unconditioned nipples.

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