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How to Avoid Engorged Breasts when Breastfeeding

Learn how to avoid letting your breasts get engorged with milk from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Okay, So avoiding engorgement. Really, the best way to avoid engorgement is quite simply to feed frequently. In the very, very beginning, when your milk first comes in, you are going to be engorged. Your body is not quite used to this onslaught of milk that it's starting to produce, and the baby is not taking as much as you're producing. After a few days, you'll actually start to even out. Your baby will start teaching your body how much it needs to make.

So, in the beginning, there's a little bit of, we'd never even say an oversupply, but there's much more in the very beginning which leads to engorgement. And a lot of times, if you're not relieving that, by the baby feeding or the baby finishing an entire breast, we can end up a little uncomfortable.

But if you do become engorged, there are very easy ways to manage it. Again, aside from feeding frequently, the milk is all stopped up in there. So a lot times, many women will put the pump on, and say "I'm going to pump out everything now", and then not a drop comes down, because we have to relieve the swelling first.

Engorgement is not just fullness. It's rock-hard breasts, and so we need to be able to relieve that swelling before we can let the milk come down. Ice packs will do that. Frozen vegetables are fine. Any specialized packs that contour the breast, even better. It doesn't mean that you're going to leave it on there for one minute. It means you're going to need a good twenty minutes to keep the ice on there, reduce the swelling, and massage around at the same time.

Once you feel the breast softening, then get into a warm shower, and let the milk flow. And then you can put the baby on.

But do not put any heat on an engorged breast, because that's just going to blow it up even more. It's going to be like a swollen ankle.

So, those are the best ways to avoid engorgement.

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