Feb 17, 2011
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Engorged Breasts During Nursing – Handy Expert Advice



Breasts feeling full are normally experienced among nearly all lactating mothers once their milk has come in two to five days following child delivery. Women might feel full, heavy, sore and warmness in their breasts arising from breast tissue that swell up due to accruement of milk, blood & lymphatic fluid in the milk ducts when milk starts being produced. This sense of feeling full in the breasts is not abnormal when breast tissues can be compressed & one doesn’t sense unwell (pains or fevers atypically felt).

Engorged breasts could develop from such typical fullness when mothers decide to not nurse whilst milk flow is quick or due to maternal-infant separation for protracted period of time & frequent & effective milk removal is not done or when weaning or the infant is not breastfeeding that frequent or in a vigorous manner.

When relieving the usual fullness in breasts isn’t done, accumulation of fluids & swell up takes place leading to hardness, tautness & glossy appearance and feel in breasts noted. Extreme tenderness & pains are felt in the breasts & the woman might have low-grading fever & have overall aches. The swell up could be extending into the underarm region & in acute situations, it could make hands numb or tingling felt due to pressure on the nerve areas. Due to the fullness & swelling in breasts, flattening in nipples & aerolar regions develop which makes the tissue tricky for the infant in grasping.

When severely engorged breasts aren’t relieved properly, the milk manufacturing cells at the tip of the milk ducts could develop atrophy & might lessen amount of milk produced. In case removal of the fluid & milk accruement isn’t done, swell up could arise to the extent wherein milk ducts would in fact would be shutting close which makes it harder for milk in coming out. When engorged breasts are not relieved then it could also cause mastitis or plugging in milk ducts.

The usage of medications for drying up milk isn’t advisable as they are not just effectual, however could carry grave side-effects & might lead to recurrence of engorgement once medicine use is halted.

Handy Pointers to Prevent/ Handle Engorged Breasts
  • Breast feeding at frequent intervals for a minimum of ten to twelve times in a twenty-hours time period or in ninety minutes to two hourly time intervals in the day and not allowing over three hours gap during nights.
  • Attempt nursing for a minimum of fifteen minutes on one breast prior to offering the other one. Avoid setting time limit for how much time the infant is spending at any breast.
  • Breastfeed infant solely diapered on for promoting greater skin contact that helps in stimulating suckle mechanism.
  • Varying breastfeeding positions to aid in promoting draining from the breasts.
  • Donning breast shells (bearing apertures to allow air flow) for twenty minutes amid feeds.
  • Don supporting brassiere (evade under-wiring), however though avoid binding them as it could cause plugging in milk ducts.
  • Lying supine amid feed to allow elevation of breasts.
  • Application of chilled compress on the breast & underarm areas amid feeds that allay swell-ups. Deploy a sheath of cloth in-between the compresses & skin. Packets of freeze veggies or diapers soaked & then placed in freezers for twenty minutes would be working as ably as ice pack one procures from drug stores. Applying chilled compressed for around twenty minutes often for one to two hours.
  • Heat usage just prior to breastfeeding could aid in letting down milk. Take tepid showers, lean over a sink full of tepid water, soak in lukewarm baths or application of tepid compress or heating pads might be of assistance. Damp heat is deemed superlative approach. Also gently massaging breast would additionally aid in milk flowing more fluently.
  • In there is swelling in nipples & areolar areas then firstly soften them before attempting breastfeeding. Manual expressing or pumping some milk from breasts helps in softening nipples & areolar regions prior to nursing. Also massaging breasts in a gentle manner prior to breastfeeding would also help. Those using electric pumps must be setting them to ‘minimum’ & eventually increasing pressure subsequent to milk starts flowing. It might not be possible turning the setting to max, though attempt at increasing pressure to the level one is comfortable with. Majority of the breast pumps are working effectually when put on high setting, however there is tenderness in nipples & breasts then avoid increasing suctioning. Application of some droplets olive oil to nipples & areola areas pre-pumping would aid in preventing frictions when one pumps.
  • Being watchful regarding the kind of breast pump one is using as several cheaper electric ones could be damaging breast tissues as there is a tendency of easy bruising in engorged breast because of heightened blood flow for instance, avoid Evenflo. In case one does not have accessing to good-quality ones that have automatic cycling like: Pump In Style, Lactina one might simply make do with manually expressing milk or massaging that must be gently done.
  • In case fullness, knottiness & tenderness is felt in breast post-feeding then one might try pumping for five to ten minutes for removing milk that is coming out with ease & swiftly. Do not be worried that breastfeeding or pumping would augment milk flow & only worsening engorgements. During such earlier phase, when milk has just come in, bear in mind that feeling full in the breasts is an accruement of fluid like lymph, blood & milk. Hence, when milk is removed it would allay the pressure & allay swell up, soften the areolas & make it lesser hard for the infant in latching on.
  • The use of chilled cabbage leaves by wrapping about breasts & aerolas with nipples uncovered. Changing leaves in thirty minutes intervals or earlier or when they wilt. Checking breasts frequently to see when milk starts dripping or breasts feeling different then taking off the cabbage leaf & attempt pumping or breastfeeding. Re-applying as required (nearly thrice amid feeds) though checking frequently since over-usage could lower milk flow.
  • In case pains & swell up last, then the physician could advice the use of some inflammation-combating medicine that doesn’t affect nursing, mostly Advil (duo pills for thrice or four times daily, in six to eight hourly time intervals along with food) would help.
  • Also the intake of sage tea (a cupful pre-bed time for 1-2 days) would provide relief from acute engorgement in breasts.

Contact your physician when body temperature crosses 101 degree or localization of pains or flu-similar signs are felt.

Generally engorgements allay in 1-2 days hence have patience. When prompt treatment of acute engorgement is not done then it could be taking even seven days for resolving & more chances of getting infections. Also the initial discomforting fullness new mothers feel in the initial couple of days post-delivery is because of the hormone rushes which wouldn’t recur.

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