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Engorgement is one of the not so fun parts of breastfeeding. You are excited to nurse your babe then suddenly your milk comes in and your breasts are hard as rocks and throbbing. It can suck, no pun intended. This happened to me with all three of mine and it was pretty intense.
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It’s all part of the process though and it’s mostly unavoidable.
Within the first two to three days after you have given birth, you will find that your breasts feel swollen, tender, throbbing, lumpy, and overly full. Sometimes, the swelling will extend all the way to your armpit, and you may run a low fever as well.
Let’s talk about it.
Within 72 hours of giving birth, an abundance of milk will come in or become available to your baby. As this happens, more blood will flow to your breasts and some of the surrounding tissue will swell. The result is full, swollen, engorged breasts.
Not every postpartum mom experienced true engorgement. Some women’s breasts become only slightly full, while others find their breasts have become amazingly hard. Some women will hardly notice the pain, as they are involved in other things during the first few days.
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Keep in mind, engorgement is a positive sign that you are producing milk to feed to your baby. Until you produce the right amount:
1. Wear a supportive nursing bra, even at night – making sure it isn’t too tight.
2. Breastfeed often, every 2 – 3 hours if you can. Try to get your baby to nurse as long as possible, at least at first. If your baby seems satisfied with just one breast, you can offer the other at the next feeding.
3. Avoid letting your baby latch on and suck when the areola is very firm. To reduce the possibility of nipple damage, you can use a pump until your areola softens up.
4. Avoid pumping milk except when you need to soften the areola or when your baby is unable to latch on. Excessive pumping can lead to the overproduction of milk and prolonged engorgement.
5. To help soothe the pain and relieve swelling, apply cold packs to your breasts for a short amount of time after you nurse. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is the perfect ice pack for this and it’s made to help relieve Engorgement Pain.
6. Look ahead. You’ll get past this engorgement in no time and soon be able to enjoy your breastfeeding relationship with your
new baby. The whole ordeal can be pretty painful but it will be over soon and things will be going smoothly.
Engorgement will pass very quickly. You can expect it to diminish within 24 – 48 hours, as nursing your baby will only help the problem.
During this time, you can and should continue to nurse. Unrelieved engorgement can cause a drop in your production of milk, so it’s important to breastfeed right from the start. Keep an eye for signs of hunger and feed him when he
needs to be fed.
There’s not too much you can do about engorgement but the things I listed above will surely help. I hope it’s not too painful for you.
How did you relive your engorgement? Tell us in the comments below.
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