The days after you have had your baby can leave you feeling like you have been hit by a truck. Then comes the cluster feeding and the lovely engorged breasts, which can be very painful for a lot of mums.
You may go from having relatively small breasts to these hot heavy udders and just look and feel angry. A lot of mums feel an urge to use a breast pump to remove the excess breastmilk, however this can just lead to producing more milk, leaving you more engorged.
Breast engorgement is a normal process of breastfeeding, it is temporary and can be easily treated.
The days after you have your baby, you will notice that your baby feeds frequently and may be awake for hours. This is known as cluster feeding, which usually happens just before your milk comes through.
Breast engorgement can last from 2 days up to a few weeks depending on how you manage it. Below are some handy tips that I have personally used with great results.
Empty your breast
It may be tempting to keep switching sides to relieve some of the pressure, this however with only help for a short time. If your baby feeds off one side, do a nappy change and then put them back on the same breast. By doing this you will remove most or even all of the milk. At the next feed do the same but on the other side.
I know this may sound very strange but it is an old wives tale that really works. Buy a whole cabbage and have it chilling in the fridge. When your breasts feel engorged, just break off a large leaf and put it in your feeding bra. You will notice the cooling and soothing effects immediately. Once the cabbage leaf has wilted then change it for a new one. You will smell like a cabbage but it’s definitely worth it.
Express only if you really need too
As I said before, expressing will produce more milk so be careful. However there are some circumstances that warrant expressing. If your breast are looking red and angry then you need to remove some of the milk, even doing 5 minutes on each side will help. When you are expressing massage your breast gently to release and lumps.
When your breast are engorged the pressure the just build and build. Having a hot shower can be helpful to release a bit of milk. Or you can get a hot flannel (compress) and Place them on your breast before a feed. This will help with the flow of milk. After a feed use cold flannels to help with the inflammation.
Engorged breast can be so very uncomfortable, especially after you already feel sore. Use this time to get the feeding going and empty your breasts regularly. Try to steer clear of expressing and use hot/cold compresses instead. Engorged breast are temporary and they will settle down if you let your body and baby just do there thing.