Engorgement of the breast can occur 3-4 days after the birth of your baby and is due to the breasts becoming overfull of milk, they may feel heavy and tender to touch. This feeling will probably only last a few days as your baby starts to feed the on milk.
Follow these simple guidelines to help relieve the pain:
- Take away some of the milk with a breast pump before and after you feed your baby
- Place warm towels on your breasts, or have a warm bath
- Stoke your breasts in a downward movement towards the nipple
- Wear a bra that supports your breasts properly
- If the pain persists, consult your GP.
Engorgement may return at any time while you are breast-feeding, especially if your baby doesn’t take a full feed or you miss a feed. Take a breast pump with you and express your milk if you know you are going to miss a feed.
Sore and Cracked Nipples
It is very common for new mothers to experience sore nipples, especially in the first few days, however, it is important to persist as breastfeeding your baby will give them the best start in life. Take extra care in encouraging your baby to latch onto your breast properly, i.e. the nipple is inside the baby’s mouth where they can suck on the nipple and not chew on it. Take care when taking them off the breast as this will also help prevent sore nipples. Using a nipple shield or nipple cream can also help. Sore nipples can easily develop into cracked nipples, if this happens you will have to take your baby off the breast for about 72 hours and express the milk instead until they heal.
Cracked nipples can unfortunately lead to a condition called Mastitis, a breast infection, which causes swelling, redness and tenderness. Other symptoms include a rise in body temperature, aches, headaches and maybe nausea. Bacteria enters the milk ducks where they grow and infects the tissue of the breast, it does not affect your milk so cannot be passed on to your baby. Consult your GP immediately who will put you on a course of antibiotics and you should feel better within a few days.
If you are having trouble encouraging your baby to latch onto your breast correctly then ask your midwife or health visitor to help, they will have had more experience than you and should with this problem, which in turn will help prevent cracked nipples occurring.