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Tips for Dealing With Breast Engorgement

Photo credit: @theblackandwhiteblogco on Instagram

Besides dealing with a new sleeping schedule to accommodate to your newborn, a new mum will also have to deal with issues surrounding breastfeeding. It’s normal to feel heavier and a little sore in your breasts once you begin to lactate, however, engorged breasts tend to feel hard and lumpy. The swelling pulls your skin taut, causing pain and discomfort that may also affect your armpits in the form of tender lymph nodes. In some cases, you may even experience a fever. More severely, hardened nipples make it impossible for newborns to suckle on.

Photo credit: mayavorderstrasse 

Photo credit: @mayavorderstrasse on Instagram


Prevention

  1. Nurse Early
    Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible so your newborn has time to learn how to latch on properly before your body produces larger quantities.
  2. Nurse Consistently
    Thankfully, breastmilk digests a lot quicker than formula so your newborn will get hungry a lot sooner. Empty your bosoms every 2 to 3 hours in the day and every 4 hours in the night to prevent engorgement. 

Photo credit: Christie_Parks

Photo credit: @christie_parks on Instagram


Reduction

When you feel overwhelming pain and your baby is unable to expel milk from your hardened breasts, you may want to try these tips.

  1. Hot Treatment
    Warm showers ease soreness by boosting blood circulation and facilitating milk expression. For the same effect, place a warm cloth over your breast. However, keep heat treatments quick as too much can worsen the swelling.
  2. Milk Expression
    For suppler breasts that your baby can suckle, express some milk by hand or with a pump to reduce tension. Some mummies find it useful to  remove excess milk after feeding using the same method. 
  3. Massage
    Before nursing, use your fingers to exert a gentle but firm pressure on either side of the areola (pigmented skin around the nipple) for 10 seconds. Repeat this process until you’ve covered the entire circumference around the nipple. This reverse pressure softening method moves the pressure temporarily backwards. 

    During nursing, use the ball of your palm to massage your breasts from the armpit to the nipple. Repeat the same action from your sternum to your nipple. This helps the hind milk let down more efficiently, relieving you of engorgement at the end of the feed. 

  4. Cold Treatment
    Chilled cabbage leaves – yes, they actually work! Wash thoroughly and cut the stems out so the nipples can breathe. Once the cabbage is no longer cool, throw the leaves away and repeat when needed. Use a chilled, damp cloth for the same effect.

Breast feeding is an arduous task, but the immunising effect it has on newborns is definitely worth toughing out the pain. With that said, don’t hesitate to visit a lactation specialist if the engorgement persists as it could also be due to an infection! 

Share with us your home remedies for breast engorgement in the comments below! 

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