Once you become a mommy, there are several minor discomforts that are encountered often. Out of these, engorged breasts are the most common.
First few days after giving birth, your breasts tend to become sore. Colostrum, the first milk, super rich in immune components is produced that nourishes the newborn. After colostrum is produced, your breasts become warm, tender and fuller secreting milk.
Why Engorged Breasts?
The real challenge starts when your breasts become sore and painful due to the constant suckling by your young one. Also, when milk is not expressed on time, your breasts tend to become fuller and harder with the piling lactation inside. This is also termed as breast engorgement.
This may turn into a difficult situation, especially when your little one is not in a mood to suckle or when you are away from your baby.
Engorgement is also a concern for your baby as latching gets more difficult on the harder breasts with no elasticity. Poor latching may make your infant to suckle hard, causing sore or even bleeding nipples. This is a painful condition for you.
[ Read: Baby Latch ]
Measures To Relieve Engorged Breasts:
The amount of lactation varies with each woman. You can be one of those who have heavy milk production all the time, or the ones with lesser quantity but more swelling. Breast engorgement can happen in either case.
There are several ways where you can make sure that the breasts do not face the engorgement. Below are few measures that you can implement:
Breastfeed your child immediately after he is born. This helps your baby to develop connect with his source of nourishment faster. Often, babies who latch themselves comfortably are those that have been nursed right after delivery.
Implement A Routine:
By the time your newborn is few days old, you will begin to understand his ‘timings’. Make sure you note your baby’s feed timings. Channeling the nursing time everyday helps your breasts not to pile up.
No To Bottles And Pacifiers:
The art of suckling comes naturally to mammals. Some parents tend to include bottles and pacifiers in an unwanted anxiety to ‘train’ their infants. This is a wrong approach. Wait for your baby to get into the suckle mode on his own.
[ Read: Pacifier For Babies ]
Try and breastfeed your baby at least 8 to 10 times in a span of 24 hours. This method has a two-fold effect. One, it helps in healthy nursing of your child and two, your breasts remain comfortable.
Pump For The Missed Feeds:
In case you have missed out feeding your baby at times because of any reason, make sure you pump out the piling milk with a hand expression or a breast pump.
Treatment For Engorged Breasts And Sore Nipples:
You may need help in case your breasts have already reached the state of engorgement. There are various ways of treating treating engorged breasts and sore nipples and reduce the pain:
1. Moist Heat:
Apply moist heat on the affected area or take a warm shower. The milk also starts flowing out on its own due to the heat, thereby reducing engorgement.
2. Cold Compress:
A cold compress also helps. Apply a cold compress for ten minutes after feeding to relieve the pain.
In case you are unable to handle the engorged state for long, talk to your doctor for options in pain medication.
[ Read: Breastfeeding Advantages ]
4. Nursing Bra:
A nursing bra is very useful to give comfort and support to your heavy breasts while feeding. Opt for cotton ones, and shop branded ones.
5. Breast Massage:
Once your breasts are engorged, gently massage around them to make the area softer. This helps reduce discomfort while stimulating lactation.
6. Breast Pump:
Use a breast pump to get the excess milk out anytime. This is highly effective in preventing and reducing the engorgement.
7. Ointment For Sore Nipples:
Consult your doctor who will prescribe a safe ointment that can be applied on your sore and bleeding nipples.
This situation is a temporary phase until you and your baby get comfortable with the nursing cycles. Being aware of the measures to implement in times of crisis will better equip you. Suckling and lactation are a natural process. Hang in there till you are settled in with the same. Happy Nursing!
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