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What is breast engorgement? How to get relief? | By Star of Baby

Jan 10,2023

By Star of Baby

What is breast engorgement? How to get relief?

Are you experiencing sore, swollen, and ready-to-burst breasts? Or your breasts are becoming huge and tender to touch post-birth? It might be breast engorgement. If not treated on time, it can lead to other breastfeeding problems such as cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts, and mastitis which is not funny. Here are the symptom and treatments to get fast relief from engorged breasts.

What is breast engorgement?

When your breasts are overfilled with milk, it is Breast engorgement as a result, your breasts will be swollen, hard and painful. Here’s how it happens: Breast lobules make and store milk in your breasts so that when your baby is hungry, your body has a sufficient supply of breast milk. If your breasts aren’t properly or frequently drained, breast milk will be collected in the lobules, making your breasts swallow, hard, achy, and firm.

Breast engorgement typically happens a few days after birth as your breasts are switching from colostrum to mature milk. Within two days your breasts become normal again and full right before a feed time only.

Engorged breasts can be uncomfortable, however, it can be a sign that your body is working properly. As long as there’s no fever and sickness the breast is drained regularly, Breast engorgement is a normal process that must subside within two to three days.

What causes breast engorgement?

  1. Breast engorgement can happen at any point of breastfeeding. Especially when your milk comes first time right after two to six days after giving birth because blood and fluid are being rushed to the breasts to prepare them for making milk and your body will not be able to figure out how much milk would the baby needs at a time so, produce more milk than demand. Many women may notice a fullness during this period.
  2. Another possible cause of breast engorgement can be dehydration and IV fluids. It leads the fluid retention making it hard to work efficiently for the lymphatic system.
  3. Stress and lack of sleep can also be a cause of breast engorgement.
  4. If the breast has not been drained for more than three hours can cause engorged breasts. You may also happen if your child has trouble breastfeeding or nursing less than usual.

Breast Engorgement Symptoms:

  • Swollen, tender-to-touch breasts: It is normal if your breasts grow a little post-delivery, but if they seem larger than normal and do not come back to the normal size you may have engorged breasts.
  • Hard and firm breasts: Engorged breasts might be a reason if your breasts are hard and it feels like they may pour up the milk without being touched.
  • Flattened nipples: A lot of collected milk in the breast can make the areola harder and flatten up the nipples. It makes the latching difficult for babies.
  •  A red or hot spot on your breast: These spots can feel like a bruise it might be a sign of infection. Go and consult your doctor as soon as possible.

How long does breast engorgement last?

During the days you are experiencing breast engorgement, you should feel relaxed right after draining out the milk or right after breastfeeding your baby and swelling should go away within two to three days. If you are taking the proper bed rest while breastfeeding during the time you are experiencing breast engorgement, it can subside the engorged breast within 24 hours.

How to relieve engorged breasts?

Here are some easy tactics to get relief from breast engorgement:

  1. Put the baby on your breast as often as possible: Draining the breasts every two hours is the best option. If you are experiencing discomfort due to engorged breasts, put your baby on your breast as often as possible. It will make you feel relaxed and will relieve the engorgement.
  2. Apply a warm and moist compress: Warm up your breasts right before a breastfeeding session would help soften the breasts and will encourage the letdown. But make sure you apply the compress for like a few minutes otherwise excessive heat can increase the swelling and inflammation.
  3. Get relief with massaging: Massaging your breasts gently can help them drain and bring down the swelling. Using our fingertips, massage in a circular motion toward the nipple and push in toward your chest.
  4. Use a cold compress: If you’re still feeling discomfort even after massaging or a nursing session after warming p the breasts, try a cold compress in between breastfeeding. It would reduce inflammation. Make sure not to try all the tactics at the same time. It can make the situation worst, give rest to your breasts in between.
  5. Cold cabbage can help: Placing cold and clean cabbage leaves on the breasts can help to get relief from breast engorgement. Make sure you remove the leaves right after the swelling goes otherwise it may lead to a diminished milk supply
  6. A manual breast pump could work: Using a manual pump to express breast milk can make a difference. Note that an electric breast pump can be harsh during the engorgement. Hand-expressing or manual breast pumps are said to be gentle that can soften your breasts.

Tips to prevent breast engorgement:

  • Breastfeed the baby as often as possible. Breastfeeding your baby from right after birth to at least every two to three hours will help to prevent your breasts from overfilling.
  • Never limit the feeding time of your baby. Let them empty your breasts fully whenever they are hungry.
  • Position your baby in a way so that the baby could have a good latch and drain the breasts properly otherwise it can lead to a buildup of breast milk. Consult your lactation expert to give your baby a smooth latch.
  • Always keep a manual breast pump with you in case you are not with your baby and go with your schedule. No matter, if you have already stored the breast milk for the baby using a breast pump, you need to express it while you are not with the baby for more than two hours.
  • Opt for a manual breast pump as it will be more gentle than an electric breast pump.
  • Drink plenty of water to let your lymphatic system work efficiently. It will help to remove the milk buildup in your breasts during breast engorgement.