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As a new mother, we have always wanted to provide what’s best for our child. Even before they are born, we make sure to equip ourselves with as much education and knowledge on pregnancy, maternity, and parenting matters to ensure that every stage will go smoothly for both us and our infant.
Unfortunately, not everything can go as planned. Breastfeeding, for example, can come with various challenges that we did not expect. On top of breastfeeding itself using up a lot of our energy, we still have to deal with issues like engorgement and blocked milk ducts.
We’d end up feeling stressed and exhausted all throughout the first few weeks – or even months. You are not the first mom to experience this. The good thing is, the countless number of mothers who experienced engorgement before also means that there are various methods that had been tested and proven – effective or not – over the years. From that, we get to try out different methods to see which one(s) work for us!
What Causes Breast Engorgement?
Breast engorgement most likely occurs after your baby is born due to the raised blood flow in your breasts. It leads to painfully overfull of milk in your breast, which usually happens when you produce more milk than your baby receives. This may lead to difficulty in breastfeeding as your breasts become firm and swollen.
Breast engorgement may occur in situations below:
- During the first few days after your delivery when your milk first comes in.
- When you cannot pump as much as you regularly do or cannot fulfill a regular pumping and breastfeeding routine.
- When you suddenly stop breastfeeding.
- When your baby starts eating solid foods and has a lesser need for milk or when your baby is sick and has poor appetite.
Method 1: Warm and Cold Compression
Compression is always a great way to get rid of engorgement. But, hot or cold? Why choose when both can do wonders?
A warm compression before breastfeeding is able to help you increase your breast milk supply and also promote a smoother milk flow. However, this method might help only if you experience mild engorgement. If you are dealing with more severe engorgement, perhaps a cold compression might relieve the feeling better.
Ice packs or cold compression after breastfeeding can help to calm the ‘burning’ pain sensation that you might feel. Be careful not to overdo it as it is believed that the numbing cooling effect might send a signal to your body to slow down milk production.
Method 2: Cabbage Leaves Breast Mask
Applying cold cabbage leaves on your breasts helps decrease breast swelling, hardness of the engorged breasts, as well as relieving other symptoms of breast engorgement. According to traditional practice, cabbage leaves are claimed to be able to absorb fluid within the breast area and reduce the fullness in breast tissue.
Make sure to practise this not more than 2 times per day. Some believe that leaving it on for too long and too frequently can negatively affect breast milk supply instead. So, be careful and remove the leaves once you feel relieved and comfortable.
Method 3: Always Breastfeed or Pump Regularly
One of the most common reasons for breast engorgement is excessive breast milk in the mother’s breast. To tackle this, you’d have to keep stimulating and collecting the milk.
Breastfeed and pump regularly can certainly help prevent breast engorgement, thus keeping the pains that come with it at bay. Ensuring that your breasts are ’empty’ and not full of milk all the time can help lower the risk of getting engorgement.
Even if your breasts are already engorged, removing a small amount of milk from your breasts will help to relieve the fullness and pressure. Your body can then produce milk regularly and according to your nursing schedule. Try to pump every 1 to 3 hours regardless of whether your baby is hungry or not.
Method 4: Postpartum Breast Massage
Post natal massage is one of the most effective treatments for breast engorgement. Breast massage has helped many mothers get rid of their breast engorgement and improve their milk flow.
On top of that, getting a breast massage as part of your postnatal care can help to stimulate the circulation and clear your milk ducts, preventing and treating issues such as engorgement, blocked milk ducts, or mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue.
A gentle breast massage before breastfeeding and pumping can result in smoother milk flow which will benefit both the nursing mommy and the breastfed baby!
These are some of the most common methods that mothers generally swear by. So, which one is the best? Well, unfortunately, the answer is always: it depends.
Every mother is different, hence so is your body condition and severity of your engorgement. The method that works for you may not work for others, and vice versa! There’s no harm in trying a few methods especially the ones listed in here as they are mostly natural procedures.
When you find out what works for you, that’s the best method!
On that note, our Premium Postnatal Massage and Postnatal Massage both include lactation-boosting breast massage that can help tackle breast engorgement. The former, in particular, also comes with the benefits of a slimming massage. Helps with breastfeeding and slimming down, what’s there not to love about it?
When you’re ready to secure your massage and get rid of that painful engorgement, PNSG is just one call away!