Some Simple Practices for Relief of Breast Pain Caused by Engorgement
Breast engorgement is nature’s way of telling you it’s time to feed your baby. The breasts have filled with milk and they are not being emptied fast enough. Breast pain, taut skin and possibly flattened nipples are all a symptom. Usually engorgement happens within the first week or two of breastfeeding, but can happen at any time during the breastfeeding process.
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Why are your breasts engorged?
Maybe a feeding was missed. This can happen quickly when you’re busy. Particularly when starting work again, or around the holidays. Another reason may be that you are trying to wean your baby from the breast. It also could be that your baby is teething and it is uncomfortable for her to eat as much as she is used in a single session. If your baby is suffering from an ear infection she may not want to complete a meal. In any case your body is used to producing milk a certain amount of milk and it has not been removed quickly enough.
Having overfull breasts can lead to other issues. Your nipples may flatten out due to the pressure of milk in your breasts. This may make it more difficult for your baby to latch on. This will lead to sore nipples. If your nipples are sore it may reduce the amount of time that you want to breastfeed. This in turn could cause your breasts to get more engorged. Another concern with engorged breasts is that if they remain full for an extended period of time your body will make an adjustment and you will start producing less milk. This is good news if you are weaning from breastfeeding. When weaning your child to formula do so slowly so that the switch is less painful.
Common sense tells us the easiest thing to do to relieve engorgement pain is to remove excess milk. No milk back-up, no pain. Simply increase the number of feedings for a short period of time. As the pressure is relieved your breasts will becomes less painful. Express some milk yourself. Either pump the milk with a hand breast pump or use an electric breat pump. Do not empty the breasts completely because this will signal your body to produce more milk. An electric pump is a necessity if you are returning to work and plan on continuing to feed your baby breast milk. You can hand express the milk as well. Let the surplus milk flow from the breast. These methods should provide instant relief.
Breast pain can also be relieved by taking a warm bath. Gently massage your breasts and express a small amount of milk. Do not be aggressive when you massage. This may cause slight bruising and therefore increase your pain. Try to feed your baby as soon as possible after bathing. Warm moist towels are also helpful. Keep in mind that although warm towels and warm baths will help relieve breast pain and make you feel more at ease, they will not stop the problem. The techniques will simply make you feel more comfortable. Remember, engorged breasts are caused by an over abundant milk supply.