Breast and Nipple Care (Part II)



Mother’s milk production normally will increase rapidly 3-5 days after delivery for about 3-5 weeks, or until milk supply is established.  It is common to have engorgement in the first couple weeks because once your first milk colostrum changes to mature milk, your body has to adjust with baby’s needs. The principle is: the more you feed your baby the more milk you will produce.

With engorgement, mother’s breasts usually become hard and swelling along with discomfort and pains. Some mothers may have light fever. However, as long as you breastfeed baby frequently, it will eventually go away after few days.  Try to express some milk before the next nursing session because it can help to soften the areola; otherwise, baby may have difficult time to latch on a firm breast.

Here are some tips on relieve engorgement pain:

  • Hand express breast milk between feedings: push the breast area behind the nipple slowly and gently;
  • Use breast pump: Medela offers many types of quality breast pumps. When use breast pump to relieve pain, never pump for more than three minutes each breast; as it will stimulate your milk production that may worsen your engorgement;
  • Use ice pack or frozen cabbage leaves can relieve discomfort of engorgement;
  • Once express some breast milk before feeding, massage breasts gently for about 30-60 seconds, it helps to soften the breast.

In addition, with engorgement, your milk flow maybe too fast for a newborn to swallow which can cause her to gag or sometimes push your breast away. In order to cope flow rate of your breast milk with baby, make sure allowing baby to take many breaks as she wants to during one nursing session.  Hand-express or pump out some breast milk prior to nursing. This will not only soften your areola but also slow down the initial breast milk flow.

When you feel you may not be able to breastfeed your baby due to engorgement, make sure talk to your doctor or lactation consultant for help.