Let the baby’s body be

When a friend had her baby, her help used to squeeze the newborn’s nipples while massaging before a bath. To my friend’s horror, her baby began to secrete milk. The help insisted that the milk should be squeezed out to ensure that the nipples don't grow large and ugly. Looks like our obsession with all things small and pretty starts right at the beginning!

If this is a practice carried out in your homes, please stop. Unnecessary touching or fondling of a baby’s nipples will stimulate them to secrete more milk and grow further in size. Also, the continual stimulation and exposure to a caregiver's hands (however clean) can cause a localised infection along the baby's breast tissue. Every year, hospitals see cases of breast abscess in newborns. So, except for a quick massage and bath, a newborn's body is best left untouched when it is busy trying to cope with its exit from the mother's womb.

When a baby exits the mother's body, some of the maternal hormones get transferred into its system. Male and female babies sometimes secrete tiny drops of milk from their nipples and also show breast tissue enlargement. Girl babies have been known to show vaginal bleeding and discharge (pseudo menstruation) right after birth. Such symptoms indicate a temporary transfer or sharing of maternal hormones and are no cause for worry. They will disappear on their own and need no intervention.