Breastfeeding problems – Engorgement

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Sore Nipples – Engorgement

Problems during breastfeeding are common, but they last a short time. These tips may help. If you find that the problems persist, call your doctor, nurse or lactation specialist. Engorgement is when the breasts become full, firm, tender and sometimes painful as your breast starts to produce milk. This often occurs 3 to 5 days after delivery.

Signs of engorgement often last 24 to 48 hours.

Signs include:

  • Larger, heavier and tender breasts Breasts that are hard, painful and warm to the touch
  • Swelling of the breasts
  • Firm nipples and areola

Ways to Prevent Engorgement

  • Feed your baby at least 8 to 12 times each day.
  • Wear a support bra 24 hours a day while your breasts are heavy. Use a sport or comfort style bra without under wires. Some mothers find more comfort without a bra.

If your breasts become engorged: 

  • Place a clean, hot, damp cloth over each breast for 3 to 5 minutes before nursing or get into a warm shower and let very warm water flow over your shoulders
  • Heating the breasts will help your milk flow easily to your baby.
  • After heating the breasts, massage them in a circular motion towards the areola and the nipple. Massaging will move the milk down. Massage under the arms and the collarbone area if this area is firm and uncomfortable.
  • Soften the breast using hand expression or a breast pump. Express enough breast milk to soften the areola so that baby can easily attach. Breastfeed right away.
  • Gently massage your breasts while nursing.
  • If the breasts are still painful, full and swollen after a breastfeeding, or refill within a half hour after feeding, you may pump to soften the breasts.

Apply cold packs to the breasts for 20 minutes after nursing

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions or concerns.

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