I’m pleased to welcome Gina Ciagne, Director of Breastfeeding Relations and Outreach at Lansinoh Laboratories Inc., back to Metropolitan Mama for the third installment of this four-part series about common breastfeeding concerns.
Q: My breasts feel engorged. What can I do to alleviate my discomfort? Should I pump?
GINA’S ANSWER: It is normal for your breasts to become larger and feel heavy, warm, and uncomfortable when your milk “comes in” within the first week after birth. Engorgement is quite common and happens when the breasts become too full of milk. Typically, your breasts will feel hard, with tightly stretched skin that may appear shiny, and your breasts may feel warm to the touch and tender and you may feel throbbing in your breasts. Your areola will also feel hard and the skin on your breast may be stretched so your nipple is flattened, making latch-on difficult. You may also have a low-grade fever.
To prevent or minimize engorgement, it is important to follow these steps:
- Nurse early and often – at least 10 times per 24 hours. Don’t skip feedings –even at night.
- Nurse on demand and according to baby’s hunger cues.
- If your baby is very sleepy and does not awake on his or her own to feed, wake him or her to nurse every 2-3 hours, allowing one longer stretch of 4-5 hours at night if you are not too uncomfortable.
- Don’t limit baby’s time at the breast. Allow him or her to finish the first breast before offering the other side and at the next feeding start with the side you finished with at the last feeding.
- Switch sides when baby pulls off or falls asleep. Burping in between can often rouse the baby enough to nurse on the other side.
- Ensure correct positioning and latch on so that baby is nursing well and can remove the milk from your breasts.
- If baby is not nursing well, express your milk regularly and frequently to maintain milk supply and minimize engorgement.
Click here for more information on engorgement including treatments and remedies.
Q. My breasts ache between feedings and are warm to the touch. Should I be worried?
GINA’S ANSWER: It is possible that you are experiencing engorgement which can cause slight aching and the breasts to be warm in between feedings. That is a very normal part of the process and I would encourage you to follow the steps outlined above.
There is another condition that can arise during breastfeeding: mastitis—an inflammation of the breast that can be caused by obstruction, infection, and/or allergy that can be accompanied by intense pain, heat, or swelling in the breast. Common symptoms include red streaks extending outward from the affected area, a fever of 101°F (38.5°C) or greater, chills, flu-like aches, and malaise. Mastitis can be mild or severe but it is important to get an assessment by a lactation consultant and/or a health care professional to determine if antibiotics are needed. There are medications that are compatible with breastfeeding so it is important that your health care provider be cognizant of your breastfeeding when prescribing any medications.
It is important that you continue to breastfeed even if you are experiencing mastitis as limiting nursing or weaning can put you at risk for other related complications including a breast abscess.
Click here for more information on mastitis.
WIN IT! One mom will receive a Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump. To enter, simple leave a comment and your e-mail address on this post prior to Monday, December 10, at midnight. The winner will be announced and contacted on Tuesday, December 11th. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
* UPDATED * The winner is #15 lev53211. Congratulations!