Tips to relieve breast engorgement while nursing

newborn baby nursing

Engorgement is a condition that can occur in the breasts of a breastfeeding mother. It happens when the breasts become swollen, hard, and painful due to a build-up of milk. Engorgement can happen when a mother's milk first comes in, after missing a feeding, or if a mother is not able to pump or breastfeed as often as she needs to. It's important to address engorgement quickly, as it can make breastfeeding difficult and lead to other complications (Clogged ducts and mastitis. Help!).

Here are some tips for relieving engorgement while breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeed frequently: the more you breastfeed your baby, the less likely you are to become engorged. Try to breastfeed your baby every two to three hours, even if your baby doesn't appear to be hungry.
  • Avoid skipping feedings: if you need to miss a feeding, try to pump your milk to maintain your milk supply and prevent engorgement.
  • Massage your breasts: before breastfeeding, gently massage your breasts to help the milk flow. You can also use a warm compress or take a warm shower to relax your breasts and promote milk flow.
  • Use nursing pads: nursing pads can help collect excess milk and prevent leaks.
  • Change positions: try changing positions while breastfeeding to encourage milk flow and relieve engorgement. For example, you can try breastfeeding your baby in a lying down or side-lying position.
  • Drink plenty of water: staying well-hydrated can help prevent engorgement by promoting milk flow. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
  • Consult a healthcare professional: if you're having trouble relieving engorgement or have any other questions or concerns, don't hesitate to consult your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant. They can provide personalized advice and help you make the best decisions for you and your baby.

Here are some other resources:
Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation
La Leche League Canada

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