The prevalence of breast engorgement following birth among lactating mothers is estimated between 65 to 75%. What does this mean? At least 6 out of 10 women will experience swollen, inflamed breasts within the first couple of weeks of giving birth. While this is a natural phenomenon that cannot be stopped there are ways to bring about breast engorgement relief.
1. Understanding The Cause Of Breast Engorgement
The birth of the child will signal to your body to increase blood flow to your breasts so milk can be produced. The subsequent blood flow and milk production in the breast tissue results in swelling and inflammation. Breast engorgement may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks postpartum.
2. Breast Engorgement Relief With Warm Water
One of the fastest ways to bring about breast engorgement relief is to use warm water. The heat from a warm shower, soaking in a hot tub or a sauna will encourage milk let down. If you’re in an environment where you cannot take a relaxing warm bath, you can use warm compresses instead.
3. Prescribed Medication
For some women breast engorgement is quite painful with the soreness stretching into the armpit. This can be extremely uncomfortable, your doctor can prescribe pain medication to manage the pain and swelling. At times, a woman may even suffer from a low-grade fever accompanied by fatigue. Again, after discussing your symptoms with the doctor they may prescribe a series of pain treatments to aid with breast engorgement relief.
4. Pump The Milk
A way to decrease the pressure in the mammary glands is to pump or express the milk. For women who cannot breastfeed or have chosen not to breastfeed this is an excellent route to take. However, pumping the milk shouldn’t be overdone as it can have the opposite effect! Aggressive milk expression may trigger the body into producing more milk. Once you pump what do you do with the milk? If you have an arrangement with the intended parents they can collect the milk periodically. Alternatively, you can approach hospitals to donate the milk.
5. Use A Cold Compress
Using a cold compress has the reverse effect of using a warm compress. Where a warm compress will encourage milk let down, a cold compress will halt milk production. Cold compresses like ice packs have a cooling effect on inflamed breast tissue and stop the production of milk.
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