Engorgement is a condition in which the breasts of a lactating mother become abnormally full of milk. It usually occurs when you produce more milk than what your baby can consume. Breast engorgement may occur when you stop breastfeeding abruptly or when you produce more milk within the first few days following child delivery. You can also develop breast engorgement if your baby’s ability to breastfeed declines as a result of an illness, reduced appetite, increased intake of other foods, or other factors.
Typically, engorgement causes your breasts to become hard and painful. The breasts may also swell and cause discomfort, making it hard for you to breastfeed properly. Although breast engorgement usually improves over time after delivery, the condition may take longer than normal to go away if you’re not breastfeeding. You can relieve your breast engorgement by doing the following:
Wearing a Bra That Provides Firm Support
A supportive bra is that which fits correctly on your breasts. The bra eases breast engorgement by reducing pain and milk leakage. Additionally, it has the ability to relieve other symptoms of engorgement, including swelling, tightness, firmness, soreness, and tenderness. When looking for a suitable supportive bra, it is advisable to obtain a bra that is not too tight. An excessively tight supportive bra exposes your breasts to mastitis, a breast infection that may cause serious breast complications. Mastitis may require the use of antibiotics to heal.
Applying Cold Compresses
Cold compresses relieve breast engorgement by reducing swelling. Applying a cold compress involves holding a cold or frozen substance against your breasts for a few minutes. You can cold-compress your breasts in various ways, including the use of ice packs and a frozen towel. Frozen vegetables, such as cabbage, are also applicable. Seek your caregiver’s instructions about how long cold compresses should last. Generally, each cold compress session should last for about 15 minutes, and sessions should be repeated at an interval of one hour. Be sure to protect your skin with a thin piece of cloth while applying cold compresses to prevent possible skin damage.
Applying Different Breastfeeding Positions
A breastfeeding position impacts the baby’s ability to latch and empty your breasts. The smartest way to determine suitable positions that facilitate proper breast emptying is to try various positions and assess the effect of every position after each breastfeeding session. Take note of the positions that cause more relief than others.
Taking Warm Showers
A warm shower not only fights muscle soreness caused by heavy physical exercises and injuries but also relieves pain, soreness, and other forms of discomfort resulting from breast engorgement. Warm water helps your milk ducts to stay open by encouraging breast muscle relaxation. This relaxation ensures proper flow of milk out of the breasts, causing relief.
However, you need to shorten your warm shower sessions as much as possible to avoid depleting your skin oil. Skin oil depletion may destroy the appearance of your skin by causing dryness and other skin complications. You need to pay attention to how your body feels and get out of the shower as soon as you begin experiencing discomfort. Applying a skin moisturizer can also help to minimize the side effects of a warm shower.
Breastfeeding Your Baby Frequently
Frequent breastfeeding eases engorgement by ensuring proper breast emptying. Remember that breast engorgement results from abnormal breast fullness; hence, the more you empty your breasts, the better you will feel. However, it is possible that your baby may resist frequent breastfeeding in some cases. Pumping your breasts in such cases may be necessary to prevent milk buildup.
Breast engorgement may cause pain and other forms of discomfort if it is not addressed accordingly. Although the condition can easily be remedied by applying the tips discussed in this article, prevention is always better than cure. You can prevent breast engorgement by ensuring that your breasts contain the correct amount of milk throughout lactation. You can achieve this by practicing proper breastfeeding. Avoid giving your baby too much of other foods during lactation period to leave room for breastfeeding.