~Engorged Breasts


Within the first two to three days after you have

given birth, you may discover 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.  

The causes

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


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.

Treating it

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.  Breast feed often, every 2 - 3 hours

if you can.  Try to get the first side of your

breasts as soft as possible.  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 over production of milk and prolonged


5.  To help soothe the pain and relieve

swelling, apply cold packs to your breasts for

a short amount of time after you nurse.  Crushed

ice in a plastic bag will also work.

6.  Look ahead.  You'll get past this

engorgement in no time and soon be able to

enjoy your breast feeding relationship with your

new baby.

Engorgement will pass very quickly.  You can 

expect it to diminish within 24 - 48 hours, as

nursing your baby will only help the problem.  If

you aren't breast feeding, it will normally

get worse before it gets better.  Once the

engorgement has passed, your breasts will be

softer and still full of milk.  

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 breast feed right from the start.  Keep an

eye for signs of hunger and feed him when he

needs to be fed.

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