Engorgement is common among breastfeeding mothers, but don’t worry, there are simple solutions that can help relieve the soreness. If you recognize engorgement early and follow these steps for treating engorged breasts, your discomfort could subside in as little as 24 – 48 hours.
- Warm, tender breasts
- Hard and “full” breasts
- Larger, flattened nipples (baby may struggle to latch)
- Discomfort up into the armpit
- Shiny, stretched skin
- Most importantly, continue to pump or breastfeed often. That is the most effective way to help to relieve the breast milk pressure.
- Apply a cold compress to breasts for 20 minutes before breastfeeding.
- Take a warm shower before breastfeeding. Let the warm water hit your back as you hand express breast milk. Avoid using warmth for more than a few minutes as it may increase inflammation.
- Gently massage breasts before and during feedings. This will help to relieve pressure and increase milk flow.
- Use cabbage to manage discomfort. Many mothers find the use of green cabbage helps to decrease the symptoms of engorgement. Apply clean, refrigerated or room temperature cabbage leaves to engorged breasts to provide relief. Just leave them on for about 20 minutes or until they begin to wilt. Apply no more than 3 times/day and discontinue when discomfort subsides.
- Call your medical provider if you have a fever higher than 101° F or severe pain. That may be a sign of a breast infection called mastitis.
- Breastfeed or pump often. Lactation Consultants recommend breastfeeding at least 10 times in a 24-hour period.
- Don’t skip feedings, including at night.
- Establish a proper latch. If a baby latches well to the breast, that will help ensure your breasts are releasing milk efficiently.
- Express milk from breasts after each feeding if your baby has not completely relieved fullness.
- Before and during each feeding, gently massage the breast. Begin massaging on the outside, working your way toward the nipple.
What treatment helped you manage engorged breasts? Tell us in the comments below.