Breast-Feeding Problems: Engorgement And Relieving Pain

Some ways for breast-feeding mothers to prevent the problem of engorgement and relieve painful engorged breasts using heat, massage and other methods.

What is Engorgement?

Engorgement happens when your breasts fill up with too much milk. It usually occurs when:

1. You don't nurse your newborn regularly/on demand (as much as he wants)

2. You miss several feeds, including night-time feeds

3. You feed him formula milk (alongside breastfeeding) or any other liquids

The heaviness in your breasts will cause you agony. Not only is it extremely painful, engorgement may even lead to severely plugged milk-ducts. Worse still, you may end up with a bad case of mastitis, which will render you feverish and make you very weak. Needless to say, you WILL end up suffering.

How do I prevent Engorgement?

As you can tell, engorgement is a most unpleasant experience so the best ways to avoid the painful hardness in your breasts is to:

1. Nurse as often as you can

2. Not miss any feeds

3. Try to sleep on your back, rather than on your stomach

4. Let your baby have her fill of milk before you remove her from the breast

5. Express your milk if your baby is too sleepy to wake for a feed

6. Try to fully-breastfeed, i.e. try not to supplement with formula milk or any other liquids, like water

How Do I Deal With Engorgement?

If your breasts do become engorged, to prevent any further pain or unpleasantness, you should:

1. Apply heat by soaking some towels in warm water and placing them on your swollen breasts.

2. Take a very hot shower and aim the showerhead at your breasts. The hot water pressure will release the milk.

3. Massage the affected areas firmly. Focus on the areas with lumps, to release the plugged milk. Massage downwards, towards the nipples.

4. Place very cold cabbage leaves on your breasts. This will help relieve the pain and hardness. Do remember to remove them when they become limp or your breasts will become engorged again.

Prevention is better than cure, naturally. So if you find that your baby does not nurse enough and your breasts are filling up, do express your milk, to prevent any unpleasant engorgement. The milk can be given to your baby later - this ensures he does not lose out on your nutritious milk. More importantly, try not to miss any feeds! Feeding your baby is the best solution for your engorgement problem as nothing can match an infant, when it comes to emptying full and heavy breasts.

A word of warning ~

All this applies to a normal, healthy baby that suckles well. If, in the first few days (after your milk has come in) you suspect that your newborn baby is not drinking enough milk, while your breasts feel extremely, extremely heavy, do check on how he is latching on to your breast. He may not be latching on correctly and hence, he is not getting enough of your milk. As in all cases of doubt, PLEASE consult your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.

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