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.
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.