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When it comes to breastfeeding, people don’t talk enough about how demotivating can some problems can be. Blocked ducts, soreness, cracked nipples and of course, the one enemy; engorgement – and the list continues. For some mothers, these things can be
Many breastfeeding women experience clogged breasts, and if left untreated, they can lead to problems such as cracked nipples, blocked milk ducts, and mastitis – no fun. Read on to learn how to tackle breast engorgement effectively!
What is breast engorgement?
Breast engorgement is a condition that affects many mothers and causes the breasts to become swollen. This is due to milk flowing out of the ducts too quickly for the baby to cope.
If this continues, it can be a sign of the milk being over-suppressed. There is a range of solutions to breast engorgement that have worked for many mothers before you. Before that, let’s talk a bit more about how they feel.
Ouch! – Symptoms of breast engorgement
There are a variety of symptoms associated with breast engorgement. Your breast may feel thick and full, or swollen and painful. With mastitis or a blocked duct, you may experience a stiff nipple, or see or feel white clumps around the breast.
Here are some of the other symptoms you may experience:
- Nipple tenderness
- Your breasts may feel heavy and heavy and lumpy
- You may feel drained – like you haven’t had enough sleep
- You may have random painful shooting pains
- There may be a burning sensation, especially when you’re upright. This is the body’s way of telling you that it’s trying to create more milk
- You may notice a weird-looking lump on the breast or under the armpit.
There are different types of breast engorgement and it depends on where the clogs are located.
3 Ways to Treat Breast Engorgement
1) Breast Massage for Smoother Lactation
Breast massage or breast expression is one of the best ways to quickly alleviate breast engorgement and its associated problems. This is also a fantastic post-doula practice, as you’ll get the benefits of stroking your breasts while you nurse. If you want to try this yourself, follow the links above to watch videos for instructions on how to begin, then find a comfortable position with your baby in the crook of your arm and begin. You’ll immediately feel your breasts relax and begin draining. Regular Nipple Butter Nipple butter or some kind of ointment can help your nipples quickly heal. If you’re still concerned about milk clogging or if your nipples aren’t quite up to par yet, a nipple butter may be the solution.
In collaboration with Postnatal Massage Singapore (PNSG), we manage to get the tips on how to do your Breast Massage effectively for Smooth Lactation!
- Massage the areola with your fingertips.
- Gently massage with small circular movements all around the breast.
- Alternate step 2 with gentle fingertip tapping on the breast and kneading the breasts gently with your knuckles.
- Perform hand expressions to remove milk in between massage.
Additional Steps for Blocked Ducts:
- Use your other hand to apply gentle pressure behind the blockage and move it down towards the milk ducts.
Additional Steps for Mastitis & Engorgement:
- Massage the outer sides of the breasts in long strokes up towards the lymph nodes in the armpit.
- Massage the inner sides of the breasts toward the lymph nodes in the centre of your chest.
2) Hot and Cold Compression
The most common way to deal with breast engorgement is with hot and cold compresses. Doing this a few times a day for about five minutes each time can help to unblock your breasts and relieve the pain. Make sure to do it right after a feeding, which helps to clear clogged ducts. You can buy disposable tea bags, a double-ended Band-Aid, or a cold pack.
Other Tips: To reduce inflammation around the breast, try to make sure you’re nursing frequently enough (up to every 2.5 hours is a good rule of thumb for maintaining milk supply). Your baby should always be taken to the toilet to urinate after feeding, and to empty the breast after each feeding.
3) Cabbage Leaves
Cabbage leaves have been a healing veggie for ages. They’re also known to help relieve breast engorgement and breast pain. One of the many ways they help is by constricting the flow of milk when you want to feed your baby, to make sure it’s as easy as possible for them.
Cabbage leaves are also very effective for calming breastfeeding and soothing sore nipples. You can easily buy them at your local store, and make a tea out of them, so you can sip on them whenever you want to soothe your soreness or the painful breastfeeding.
The common way to do it is to chill them in the freezer and apply the cold leaves onto your breasts to calm the engorgement pain. This has to be one of the easiest and simplest remedies you can use to make sure your baby is breastfeeding as well as possible.
Other ways to prevent clogged breasts
Blocked ducts can be very painful. For some women, it may take a couple of weeks for these to clear themselves, and at times they are an easy fix.
However, there are a lot of times when blocked ducts have to be dealt with in a medical setting. This is where inflexible breast shields come in. These are especially useful for those who have never had milk supply issues before. They consist of a special silicone or latex barrier that clamps directly around the breast. When placed on the breast it fills any irregularities and allows milk to flow properly. Alternatively, a firm guard like a bodysnatcher can be placed over the breasts in order to prevent milk from coming in too quickly.
Having the right meals can also help! Look for the best foods for lactation to ease the production and flow. Garlic, for example, is known to give a nice odour to your milk and can help ease your baby’s transition to your breast milk. Studies have also shown that it can encourage baby to stay latched on longer! Effective ingredients like these are what we incorporate into our meals so we could provide everything a breastfeeding mom needs.
Breast engorgement is a common breastfeeding complication, and if you suffer from it, you’re not alone! However, don’t let your condition get the best of you. By taking the steps we’ve outlined here, you’ll be able to get the situation under control and get your supply back on track.
At ReLacto, we are guided by an in-house dietitian who created the ideal breastfeeding meal plan to ease a mother’s breastfeeding journey. If you’ve been looking for the best diet plan for breastfeeding mom, this is where your search ends. Talk to us at +65 6360 1000 to know more!