When to expect engorged breasts?
- Around days 3-5 it can be common to feel engorgement, or painful fullness, in your breasts.
- They can feel swollen and firm to the touch
- Sometimes causes a flattened nipple making it difficult for baby to latch
- This is swelling is caused by fluids building up in the breast tissue, not breastmilk
- But this is a good sign that breastmilk is "coming in" and being produced!
How do you treat this?
- Most importantly- increase milk removal from the breast, either via breastfeeding, hand expression, or pumping.
- Have baby latch as often as possible- aim for 10-12 times per day
- Pumping (on a gentle vacuum/cycle) can also help relieve some pressure and be more comfortable
- Lie flat and massage breasts toward armpits to improve fluid drainage
- Apply cool/cold compresses or raw cabbage leaves to the breasts after feeding/pumping for 15 minutes
- This reduces swelling and should help with the pain
- Use NSAIDs as needed for pain (Ibuprofen, Motrin, etc)
How can I get baby to latch when engorged?
- Try reverse pressure softening - place the pads of fingers around your nipple and press back toward the chest for 30 seconds, then rotate your finger position and do the same thing again.
- This pushes the edema away from the nipple and helps evert the nipple so baby can latch on
- Check out this video of Reverse Pressure Softening
- Try a warm shower before feeding baby
- The warm water helps milk to start flowing and may flow out naturally in the shower and relieve some fullness
- Use hand expression for a few minutes BEFORE latching baby if it is too painful or difficult due to the swelling
- Check out this video on Hand Expression