Keeping yourself from feeling tired, swollen, or sore is tricky when you're a new mother. Nowhere is this fact more evident than dealing with engorged breasts.
When suckling, babies get pretty enthusiastic, leaving you reddened and swollen after feeding time. You can also deal with engorged breasts through other means like ill-fitting clothes. What’s a new mother to do? We at 123BabyBox are ready to help you through this irritating time!
Below are our top tips for reducing breast engorgement to feel your best.
Why Does Breast Engorgement Occur?
If only breast engorgement wasn’t such a common problem! This issue comes from various sources, making it difficult to avoid at the best of times.
Babies Chewing Instead of Suckling
Babies not only need nourishment, they feel the need to test out their gums. As a result, your child might gnaw and chew on your nipples instead of suckling.
Interrupted Feeding Routine
Breastfeeding is healthy for both the mother and child. When your milk has nowhere to flow, you’ll know!
Having regularly interrupted breastfeeding sessions causes engorged breasts that feel heavy and uncomfortable.
Poorly Fitted Clothing
Do you have tops that are too tight or made out of irritable material? Underwire bras are falling out of favor and are a major contributor to engorged breasts for new mothers.
Consider the clothes in your closet next time your breasts feel tight or reddened.
Related: Baby Slings: How to Use Them
How Long Does Breast Engorgement Typically Last?
Breast engorgement lasts longer or shorter depending on the cause. If the reason is interrupted milk flow, expect to wait 12 to 48 hours for relief.
Hormonal fluctuation is the foundation of how much milk you’re producing. If the cause is due to your clothes, expect relief sooner. The first six to twelve weeks of breastfeeding are often the most difficult due to your body's changes.
Related: Why Do Babies Cry in Their Sleep?
New mothers struggle to juggle the responsibility of raising a newborn. We established 123 Baby Box to provide regular access to books, diapers, and much more.
Options for Alleviating Cases of Breast Engorgement
Swollen, painful breasts make it difficult to sleep, exercise, or focus on your work. Need a few more tips to alleviate breast engorgement?
We’ve got a few practical methods you can use whenever you feel the onset of this issue.
Feeding Your Baby
A reliable way to alleviate swollen breasts is to just feed your baby. The build-up of milk can cause clogged milk ducts, resulting in reddened nipples that feel like they’re on fire.
The average baby will need between eight to twelve feeds per day. This frequency will reduce as your child gets a little older, but a sudden reduction isn’t good! A baby that doesn’t want to feed might be feeling unwell or stressed.
Managing Your Pain or Discomfort
Sometimes feeding your baby isn’t enough to reduce the discomfort. Just like soothing a sore muscle, reducing pain from engorged breasts relies on a tender touch.
Try a warm, soft compress to hold on your breasts for several minutes at a time. Wear soft cotton shirts or sweatshirts to reduce friction on your skin. One trick we like is taking a minute to preemptively hand pump the breast before feeding your child. Doing this keeps your baby from chewing or suckling too hard.
Massage Your Breasts
A new mother’s breasts go through a lot of hard work. Give them a gentle massage now and again to stimulate the blood flow beneath the skin.
Consider massaging your breasts after taking a long, hot bath. Make sure the water isn’t so hot it irritates your skin, but warm enough it loosens up your muscles.
Use Alternating Heat and Cold
Similar to the above tip, we recommend a blend of hot and cold. It’s important to understand how inflammation works before proceeding with this technique.
Use a cold compress when you notice your breasts becoming hot and tender. This technique reduces the blood flow so you’ll experience less throbbing or burning. After about twenty-four hours, switch to heat. Heat is necessary to encourage the body’s natural healing process.
What Not to Do When Dealing with Engorged Breasts
What you don’t do is just as necessary as what you do. When dealing with engorged breasts, there are several things you can do to make your condition worse.
Our first tip is not to ignore what you’re feeling. Engorged breasts are highly uncomfortable, which will make feeding time difficult for you and the baby. Our second tip is to avoid very tight and restrictive clothing. Stick to stretchy yoga pants, soft cotton shirts, and loose blouses.
Engorged breasts are a major pain, to say the least. You’ll be happy to know this issue is easy to resolve once you understand the underlying cause.
Most often, engorged breasts are caused by interrupted feeding time, babies biting too hard, or restrictive clothing. Consider breast massages, more frequent feeding time, or softer tops to reduce discomfort. Make sure to only use cold compress for the first twenty-four hours after pain starts. Use heat after twenty-four hours to stimulate the healing process.
Being a new mother doesn’t have to be so difficult! Contact us today to start your baby box subscription and make your day-to-day life much easier.