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How Can I Deal with Engorgement while Breastfeeding?

A breast pump.
Feeding more often can help relieve breast engorgement.
Warm washcloths can be pressed against the sore area to relieve pain and swelling.
A hot water bottle may be applied to the breasts to help relieve pain.
An ice pack, applied to the breast, will offer some relief from the pain of engorgement.
Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Engorgement while breastfeeding occurs when a mother's breasts become too full. When breasts become engorged, they often feel warm, heavy, and even swollen or painful. This can be relieved by nursing or extracting milk using a breast pump. Hot and cold compresses, and some over-the-counter pain killers may also help between feedings.

Nursing your baby is considered to be the best method when dealing with engorgement while breastfeeding, according to most doctors. Regular feedings, roughly an hour or two apart, will help drain the breasts, and relieve the discomfort and swelling. Massaging the breasts will also help the milk flow more easily. To reduce the chances of nipple pain or dry cracked nipples, you should not start to nurse when your nipple is hard or firm. Instead, express some milk first, either manually or with a breast pump.

There are times when your baby may not be available during feeding time, such as when you're at work or he is spending time with his grandparents. Also, there are some babies who aren't able to latch on due to a physical abnormality of the mother's nipples. In these cases, a breast pump can be used to relieve engorgement while breastfeeding. Breast milk must be properly stored in a refrigerator or freezer, however, until it is ready to be used.

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Shortly before feedings, heat can be applied to reduce the discomfort of engorgement while breastfeeding. Hot water bottles, warm washcloths, or heating pads set on low can all be applied to the breasts for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. A hot shower or hot bath may also be helpful.

Cold compresses can also be helpful when trying to deal with engorgement while breastfeeding. An ice pack or a cold washcloth can be applied to the breasts after nursing for roughly ten minutes. This will not only ease some of the discomfort, but reduce the swelling as well.

Supporting your breasts while you are breastfeeding is also important. Wearing a quality nursing bra can help engorgement while breastfeeding. The proper bra can help support the extra weight of engorged breasts.

If the above methods don't work, you may want to talk to your doctor about which over the counter medications can help you deal with engorgement while breastfeeding. Taken sparingly and in the normal doses, most of these medications will not harm your baby. Medications like aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve both pain and swelling.

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SteamLouis
Post 3

@burcinc-- Engorgement can happen at any time. I had a lot of engorgement in the first few weeks and then I would have it again from time to time as my baby got older. Pumping milk out regularly is the best treatment.

serenesurface
Post 2

@burcinc-- Have you tried cabbage leaves? Cabbage leaves are great for breast engorgement.

Freeze cabbage leaves and apply them to your breasts for twenty minutes. I usually just put it in my bra. The cold relieves swelling and pain. My doctor told me to use cabbage leaves after I'm finished nursing and to apply a hot compress before nursing.

The idea is to prevent engorgement while the breast fills up after feeding and to soften the nipple and encourage milk flow with heat before feeding. Try this and see if it helps.

burcinc
Post 1

It's been four weeks since I gave birth and I have breast engorgement. I'm feeding frequently, but it only takes a half hour for my breasts to feel tight and painful again.

Will my breasts be engorged as long as I breastfeed? Or will it get better in the next few months?

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