Breast Feeding: Engorgement Advice

Find out how to relieve engorged breasts to fully enjoy your breast feeding experience.

Breast engorgement can be uncomfortable whenever it occurs. Typically the new mother will experience breast engorgement with three situations: the first time her milk fully comes in, during breastfeeding if feedings are missed and the milk is not expressed on the schedule it is used to, when the mother chooses not to breastfeed and must wait for the milk to dry up. It is important to treat breast engorgement properly so that you cut down side effects like infection or clogged nipples. There are several things a new breastfeeding mother can do when she finds herself suffering from breast engorgement. To bring relief, try these measures.

1. Make sure your bra offers support. Firmness is important but you do not want it it be too tight or restrictive, just fully supportive. Do not wear a bra that is sizes too small or overly tight as this can lead to problems such as infection.

2. Do not use a nipple shield in your bra. This merely adds pressure where it isn't needed and can cause problems with milk ducts getting clogged. It can also simply cause pain from friction or touching the engorged breasts.

3. If you are breastfeeding, be sure to pump a little bit of your milk prior to the feeding. This will soften your breast as it relieves a bit of the pressure and will also make it easier for your baby to grasp the nipple and suckle properly. This will also stimulate your let-down reflex in many cases.

4. When your breasts become severely engorged massage can help. Gently massage prior to feedings going from the outer edge of the breast inward toward the outer edge of the nipple in small, soft circles. This gentle massage of the breast can also stimulate the let down reflex as well as soothing sore, swollen breasts. Be careful not to use any sort of lotion or cream which will avert baby from the breast, and definitely do not get any lotion or cream in the area of the areola, or you may prevent milk flow by clogging ducts.

5. In severe engorgement, hot or cold compresses may help. Some women find the extreme cold temperatures work better for them, soothing their breasts, other women prefer heat. Experiment and find out which works best for you, or alternate. Many nursing mothers do this by applying heat prior to a feeding to help stimulate milk flow, and applying cold icepacks afterward in order to sooth the breasts. When using heat make sure you have a barrier between the heat source and your skin to avoid burns.

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