You may face breast engorgement when milk first starts flowing into your breasts. Breast engorgement is common within a week after delivery and often occur when breast milk changes from colostrum to mature milk. Sometimes breast engorgement takes place if the baby fails to empty the breast completely or does not suck on one breast at all. Breast engorgement usually lasts for a day or two. But in some rare cases, it can last for about a week.
Symptoms of Breast Engorgement
- Your breasts become full and they feel hot, tender and heavy.
- You may also experience a painful sensation and the milk may stop flowing. This prevents the milk glands from emptying completely.
- Your breasts are swollen.
- Your nipples and areolae are firm.
- Preventing Breast Engorgement
- Ensure that your baby gets about 8 to 12 feeds a day to remove the accumulated milk. Do not skip a feeding session because of the pain.
- Wear a support or comfort nursing bra with no under wires.
- Wear loose fitting clothes that do not rub on your breasts.
Treating Breast Engorgement
You must get treated for breast engorgement as soon as you realise it has started. This reduces your discomfort and makes suckling easy for the baby. If you leave them untreated, it could lead to mastitis. If you happen to suffer from breast engorgement, you can minimise your discomfort by trying out the following:
Keep a clean, hot and damp cloth on your breasts for about 3 to 5 minutes before you breastfeed your baby. You may also consider heating your breasts by immersing your nipples in a bowl of warm water. This warmth induces milk flow.
Another good way to warm your breasts is to establish skin-to-skin contact with your baby. You can also gently massage the breast your baby is suckling.
Before feeding your baby, hand express a little milk from your breasts so that the milk starts flowing and the nipples become soft. Your baby will be able to establish a better latch on soft nipples.
Change the breast feeding position regularly to ensure that the milk ducts are emptied.
Place ice packs on your breasts for about half an hour after each nursing. One excellent and economical cold pack that you can use is large outer chilled cabbage leaves after cleaning. Make a hole in the centre of the leaves for your nipples