Here are the top 8 tips, lactation specialist and nurse approved, that will help lessen breast engorgement in breastfeeding.
I spent over 12 years as a postpartum nurse working with lactation consultants and breastfeeding patients. I’m here to offer you the best 8 tips of the trade to help breast engorgement in breastfeeding.
You’ve had your baby, breastfeeding has gone fairly smoothly, and then day four hits. “Oh my gosh, is this how it will feel to have milk for my baby??” You, my friend, are experiencing engorgement.
Engorgement is when your body makes more milk than your baby is currently needing. It happens when your mature milk first comes in and your body is learning what your baby needs. It can also happen when your baby skips a feeding. The breasts will become swollen and uncomfortable.
And to answer that first question, no, this will not stick around for long. Engorgement typically lasts around two days and then will settle down. Your boobs will grow in size, feel very hot, and also feel as hard as rocks. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. Hang in there!
8 Tips to Help Breast Engorgement in Breastfeeding
1. Nurse often. Do not skip feedings.
Now is not the time to slack off on nursing because it’s uncomfortable. This will actually make the engorgement much worse. Follow the tips below to get instant relief.
2. If your baby is having a hard time latching because of the engorgement, try this:
If baby has a hard time latching on because the breast is so firm, some options are:
- Hand express a little milk,
- Dip your breast in a bowl of warm water a few minutes before you nurse.
- Pump just a couple of minutes to relieve some of the pressure.
3. Only pump enough milk to relieve the engorgement.
Remember, the more you nurse or pump, the more milk you will make, so don’t pump a long time just to relieve engorgement.
4. Take anti-inflammatory medication.
Take over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen every six hours for up to a week. (If you have been taking it since delivery, make sure you count those days as part of your week.)
5, When showering, face away from the warm water.
When you shower, don’t face the warm water. It will make your milk let down and stimulate you to produce more. Only do this if you are getting out to immediately nurse your baby.
6. Place ice packs on your breast when you are done nursing for comfort.
Place ice packs, cold packs, or cold compresses on your breast when you are done nursing for comfort. This can provide instant relief. Don’t do this before nursing because it can constrict the milk flow for your baby. Warmth before nursing. Cold after nursing.
7. Use lanolin or coconut oil on your nipples.
Generous amounts of lanolin or coconut oil on your nursing pads will also help with sore nipples. I preferred coconut oil, but both work well. You can use it before baby latches or once they’re done. Or both! A better latch can also help with sore nipples.
8. Try Soothies or TheraPearl Breast Therapy.
Some people swear by soothies. Honestly, they never worked well for me. They didn’t seem to improve the soreness, and they would stick to my nipple when I tried to remove it. Ouch! I would recommend TheraPearl Breast Therapy instead. You can use them for warm relief before you nurse (which will also soften the nipple for baby to latch) or for cold relief once you’re done.
Is this engorgement or mastitis or a blocked duct?
Engorgement is the painful overfilling of the breasts, which is temporary and can be relieved with the above tips.
Mastitis is inflammation in the breast caused by a breast infection. Symptoms of mastitis include increased body temperature (fever), moderate to severe pain in an area of the breast, and body aches. Signs of a breast infection like mastitis can mimic flu-like symptoms. If you are experiencing any sign of a breast infection, get professional medical advice. You may need an antibiotic. You may also need an appointment with your lactation consultant, a breastfeeding specialist.
A blocked duct is when one or more milk ducts are plugged with too much breast milk. This usually takes care of itself, but you can help it along. You may feel an uncomfortable lump in one breast. It also may feel “full.” Using gentle massage on the spot in a circular motion while baby nurses on the breast or while you use an electric pump can offer relief. Warm compresses placed on the full milk duct can also help.
How to decrease my milk supply or make my milk supply dry up
If your baby’s needs have changed or they aren’t nursing as often due to supplementing with baby formula or adding solid foods to their diet, a supportive bra (without underwire) can help your painful breasts as they adjust to your baby’s needs.
If you are through with breastfeeding and are ready for your milk to dry up, try placing cabbage leaves in your bra and an over-the-counter antihistamine. Both of these will help your milk supply decrease and go away. I don’t recommend you stop feeding cold turkey. This can cause severe engorgement. Begin with dropping one feeding in 24 hours. Once your body has adjusted, drop another. A gentle decrease can prevent pain and discomfort!
8 Tips to Help Breast Engorgement in Breastfeeding
Hang in there mama! This too will pass. Once the initial engorgement improves, you may experience some engorgement every now and then if your baby skips a feeding, or when you are attempting to ween. All of these tips will work for those times as well.
Do you want to know how to naturally increase your milk supply? Check out these top 11 ways to increase breast milk, lactation specialist and mother-baby nurse approved!
Check out these nurse-approved swaddling hacks to keep your baby sleeping calmly after nursing!
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