Breast engorgement is a condition that affects nearly all new mothers within the first few weeks of giving birth. The condition is painful and, if not treated, can lead to other conditions such as plugged milk ducts and mastitis. Learn how to relieve breast engorgement by reading the steps below.
Nurse your baby if you are breast feeding.
Breast engorgement results from over-production of milk or under-feeding by the baby. The easiest, and quickest, way to alleviate breast engorgement is feeding your baby from the breast that is engorged.
Most doctors will advise a new mother to nurse her baby every 2-to-3 hours. Breast engorgement can be prevented if you follow this schedule.
Manually remove milk from your breasts.
There may be several days when your breasts are going to be engorged if you have decided not to breastfeed your baby. Use your hands or a breast pump to manually remove milk from your breasts.
Make sure you only remove enough milk to alleviate the pain and firmness if your ultimate goal is to let your milk dry up. You could be encouraging your milk ducts to keep producing milk if you remove too much milk.
Take a warm shower.
Allow the spray to start at the top of the breasts and adjust your body so it works its way down. You can also massage them at the same time. This will be a bit painful at first, but it will ease the tenderness and hardness in the breasts.
Use cold compressers between feedings or breast pumping.
Try cold compresses to help reduce swelling and ease the pain if your breasts still feel painful and are hard to the touch, even after nursing or pumping milk. Apply the compress several times for 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Bags of frozen vegetables work well for this method.
Wear a loose-fitting bra.
Tight-fitting bras can compress the lower part of the breast to the rib cage. This has the effect of trapping milk in the lower milk ducts and will aggravate the problem.
Chill cabbage leaves and place them inside your bra.
This is a remedy that goes back to ancient times. Chill clean cabbage leaves for 30 minutes. Poke a hole in the center of a leaf for the nipple. Lay them on and around the breast and put on your bra. Do this for 20-to-30 minutes three times a day until the engorgement eases.
•When the breast is engorged, it may make it difficult for your baby to latch on properly to feed. If this happens, manually remove a little milk so the hardness of the breast is reduced enough for the baby to feed.
•Breast engorgement normally appears within the first couple of days to a week after giving birth. If you experience this condition after you have established a good feeding routine with your baby, it could be something more serious and you should see your doctor.