Your Personal Hygiene and Breast Feeding

There is no need to change your personal hygiene when breastfeeding. Here are some things that help to prevent soreness and infections of the nipples:

  • Rub a small amount of breastmilk into your nipples after feeding.
  • Keep your nipples clean and dry.
  • If you use breast pads, change them when wet and do not use pads with plastic on the back.
  • Expose your nipples to the air as much as possible. In addition, try to wear clothing that allows air to circulate and moisture to evaporate.
  • If your nipples become painful, ask your health care provider for advice.

Hand washing

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. These germs can come from things you touch, including other people, unclean surfaces, food, and animals. Even though it is simple to do, hand washing is often overlooked.

There are two key aspects to proper hand cleaning: when to wash and how to wash.

When to Wash

  • before eating
  • before, during, and after you handle food
  • before dressing a wound, giving medicine, or inserting contact lenses
  • before picking up an infant
  • before and after changing a diaper
  • after contact with blood or other body fluids (like vomit, mucus, or saliva)
  • after you use the toilet
  • after handling animals or their food, toys, leashes, or waste after touching anything that might be soiled (such as trash cans, used cleaning cloths, sinks, drains, soil, etc.)
  • more often when someone in your home is sick
  • whenever your hands look dirty.

How to Wash

  • Remove all rings and wet your hands with warm running water.
  • Apply soap and rub your hands together vigorously to make a lather.
  • Continue to wash for at least 20 seconds (as long as it takes to sing your ABCs). Make sure to scrub between your fingers, under the nails, the back of hands, and your wrists. Wash your hands longer, as needed, to get rid of all dirt you can see on your hands.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water and use a clean towel or your sleeve to turn off the taps.
  • Dry your hands completely with a paper towel, hand dryer or clean towel. Replace hand towels with clean ones often.

Your Personal Care Affects Your Baby

Clean hands help prevent germs from passing between you and your baby. Always clean your hands before and after handling the baby— but especially at these times:

  • before nursing/feeding
  • before holding or rocking
  • before dressing
  • after diapering

When Soap and Water Are Not Available…

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (gels or wipes) are an excellent choice when soap and water are not available.
  • Use the gel or wipes as directed on the product label.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work well, unless you have a lot of dirt or grease on your hands.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used by children over one-year-old while you carefully supervise. Do not allow children to swallow the sanitizer or to touch their mouth, eyes, or nose before the alcohol has evaporated from their hands.

More Hand washing Tips

  • Hand lotion can help prevent chapped skin. When using lotions, avoid touching the spout of the container, as this can spread germs to the lotion inside the container.
  • Consider giving everyone in your home their own hand towel to use during cold and flu season.
  • To help a young child with hand washing, hold the baby so that his or her hands can hang freely under the warm running water. When you finish helping the child, wash your own hands.

To Learn More…

Lysol Canada:
Canadian Public Health Association: