Engorgement or rather breast engorgement is one of the most commonly seen post pregnancy condition, where the mother experiences very high or over abundant milk supply. This generally occurs during the first few days after the delivery; it is a temporary condition and once your body starts adjusting with the milk supply and demand graph as per the baby’s needs, the engorgement also subsides.
However, in some cases, engorgement can be really painful and complicated with tender or swollen breasts, hardened and flattened areola and nipples, high fever, swollen lymph nodes and lumpy breasts. Fortunately, there are many home remedies that treat breast engorgement effectively. Here are some of them –
Take two large pieces of cabbage leaves and press them against the engorged breasts, you can also keep them tucked inside a bra. Wash the cabbage leaves before using it and cut the nipple holes so that air flows freely around the nipples.
This is the most recommended option to treat engorgement. The more you feed the child, the more milk is sucked out and your breasts will show less engorgement. Try to breastfeed the child for 15 minutes at a stretch in every 2 hours. Make sure your latching positions are correct, as it is often seen that although the mothers are nursing for the longer time, the milk does not pass on to the baby effectively due to positioning problems.
Breast massage is one of the effective remedies to treat breast engorgement. Circular movements with tender pressure will help you to get relief from the pain and tenderness, if needed you can press out some milk during this time to lighten the breasts.
Both warm and cold compresses are helpful for breast engorgement. Apply a warm and wet cloth around the breasts for 15-20 minutes just before you plan to breastfeed. This will enable easy flow of the milk while you lactate. Cold compresses during bedtime will help you to alleviate the pain and swollenness.
Let Out the Excess
In most cases it is seen that excess milk flows out even after the baby is fed completely. If not done properly, breast engorgement can turn really painful. It is unadvisable to stop excess milk production with any medication, instead you can manually press your breasts and pump out the excess milk and store it for feeding the baby later. Do not store breast milk in room temperature for more than 2 hours.
This is a powerful herb that contains estrogen naturally and can decrease the milk supply without any side effects. You can buy sage tea in any commercial health food stores; drink one cup at bed time and the other during any other time of the day to ease severe engorgement.
This normal breast fullness does not need to be treated unless your engorgement is really serious with pain, fever and tenderness. If you baby can suck the milk frequently and effectively, most of the engorgement problems can be sorted out. However here are some more handy tips that can help you to prevent breast engorgement after pregnancy –
- Do not use any over the counter drugs that dry up your milk; these are not only harmful to you but can even bring serious side effects in the baby; consult a doctor or try out the natural remedies mentioned above.
- Use a breast pump once in every few hours to ensure that the milk is not getting accumulated in the ducts.
- Do not wear tight clothes and underwear while you are a lactating mother, this prevents the free flow of the milk and the milk starts jamming up the ducts.
- Nurse baby wearing only a diaper as scientific studies have said that skin- to -skin contact stimulates sucking.
- Change the nursing position of the baby frequently to enhance the milk drainage.
- Wearing breast shells having holes for air circulation enhances the flow of milk; wear these for about 20 minutes in between the feedings.
- A supportive bra (without under-wire), is a good idea, but they should not be too tight or binding your breasts.
- During intervals and between the feedings, lie flat on your back so that your breasts remain elevated.
- Apply cold compresses after feedings and hot compresses before feedings.
The above mentioned points are very useful to treat engorgement naturally.