In some women, a few days after delivery the milk supply comes on so quickly that the breasts become swollen, hard and sore. This is called engorgement. There is an increased supply of blood and other fluids in the breast as well as milk.
What will you notice in an engorged breast?
The breasts and nipples may be so swollen that the baby is unable to latch on and suckle. The soreness makes it difficult for the mother to relax and enjoy the feeding of her baby.
How are engorged breasts managed?
- Feed the baby on demand from day one until he/she has had enough.
- The first breast is finished completely. One side per feed is used rather than some from each breast. The second breast is offered if the baby is hungry.
- A warm wash or shower before breast-feeding is advised as it softens the breasts and helps in free flow of the milk.
- Avoid giving the baby other fluids.
- Massage any breast lumps gently towards the nipple while feeding.
- Apply cold packs after feeding and cool washed cabbage leaves (left in the refrigerator) between feeds.
- If the breast feels uncomfortable or if the baby sleeps for more than four hours, the baby can be woken up for its feed.
- Use a good comfortable brassiere.
- Remove your bra completely before feeding.
- For severe discomfort, contact your doctor - paracetamol may be taken with the doctors' consent.