Not keen on sticking cabbage leaves in your bra? Read our top tips on to preventing engorged breast whilst you’re breastfeeding.
What Causes Engorged Breasts?
It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier and quite tender after birth. Your breast milk starts to fill your breasts around day 3-5 after baby is born. Your body is still new to this breastfeeding malarkey and is estimating how much milk is needed to satisfy your baby. Once your milk ‘comes in’ then you may begin to notice that if you go longer that 2-3hrs without feeding your baby, this sensation will reoccur. You want to avoid this happening too often as it can lead to the dreaded mastitis.
5 Tips for Engorged Breasts
1. Breastfeed or Pump Regularly
Engorgement is like natures timer for letting us mums know it’s time to feed baby again. If your breasts start to feel full it’s because they need to be emptied more often. Pop baby on for a feed to empty them. If baby is not around then hand express some milk or if possible use a breast pump – check out our guide to breast pumps. Also remember if you regularly let your breast get engorged, this may affect your milk supply as your body thinks baby isn’t feeding so often.
2. Avoid Pressure
Applying pressure to an area of your breast can cause blocked milk ducts. Regular pressure can be caused by things such as a tight fighting bra, an underwire bra or even using your fingers to ‘see’ baby when you are feeding (this is most common with first time mums).
3. Let Baby Feed
It is important for baby to feed as long as they need. You’ll know baby is finished if you can easily move them away from the breast without them trying to suckle. I like to refer to this as baby being ‘milk drunk’ as a full baby is often a sleepy baby particularly in the first few weeks.
4. Check Attachment
It is so important for baby to be positioned and attached to your nipple correctly otherwise problems will occur quickly. Not only will your breasts become painful and engorged but your baby quickly become cranky and hungry or sleepy and fall behind with weight gains. If you are unsure of your positioning and attachment ask your midwife, breastfeeding advisor or health visitor for advice.
5. Prepare with Gel Pads
Breast gel pads are those specially designed plastic pockets with the squishy gel formula inside. Use as a cool pack when your breast are engorged to take off the ‘stinging’ sensation. As a heat pack it stimulates the milk flow before a feed or expressing. Mama Milk love products which are dual purpose but we think it can probably be used beyond maternity use just as you would use a normal gel pack for bumps, bruises and general aches and pains.