I had difficulties with latching-on start with my baby (as mentioned in my post: Breastfeeding: very first session (after C-section), because of my big breasts with small nipples. However things got worse by second night. I had a slight temperature, shivering and little pain on both breasts. Third day I woke up with unbearable pain on my both breasts that were swollen and hardened as basketball ball, along with slight temperature, shivering and excessive headache. I couldn’t stop my tears rolling down my face. All I wanted is to keep breastfeeding, as this was the time I felt a relief, though the moment of latching-on was more difficult than first 2 days, due to very hard breasts. Also, I had unbearable pain on my breasts until the flow starts and breast empties a bit. My OBYGEN doctor explained that I am engorged and nurses started the treatment. In addition to all of these I had cracked nipples from incorrect latch on.
What is engorgement?
“Breast engorgement means your breasts are painfully overfull of milk. This usually occurs when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. Your breasts may become firm and swollen, which can make it hard for your baby to breast-feed. Engorged breasts can be treated at home.”
- Hot shower for 3-4 minutes.
- Special massage on breasts: start from nipples with pressing the fingers outwards, all over the breasts. I couldn’t do it on my own due to excessive pain, thanks to nurses for doing the massage.
- Hand expression of milk. Use the thumb and index fingers as C letter to catch the breast and press downwards towards nipple, milk start flowing after several attempts by drops only.
- Hot pack on breasts (I used hot packs most of the time as it is easier, rather than going to shower.)
- Massaging the breasts
- Hand expression of milk
I was advised to not use the breast pump machine as it can worsen the situation. You will understand why by knowing the reason my breasts been engorged.
Why I was excessively engorged?
The reason is that I had a big boy out there (4630 gm 55cm) who was too hungry, so I offered my breasts on demand. His demand was every 2-3 hours, where each breast taken for 40-45 minutes (both breasts taken one after other). Each breastfeeding session (meal) took 1 hour 40minutes as minimum. In comparison, usually babies take 1 meal for 10 – 40 minutes. So when colostrum started changing to actual milk, my organism decided to produce large quantity of milk to cover the high demand.
How long did it take and how did it pass?
It started by second day. 3rd and 4th days were the worse: unbearable pain, excessive swollen and very hard breasts and areola, very bad headache. 5th day no temperature, hard breasts only (some parts) and headache had lessen. 6th day headache was gone only mild pain on some parts of breasts. I was totally fine by day 7.
Most of mommies give up breastfeeding due to engorgement, because the pain is unbearable. Please don’t give up breastfeeding, engorgement is natural and very common, you can easily treat it on your own, there is no harm to your baby.
Please don’t take the anti-lactation pills to stop the engorgement, as those are bad to your hormonal system. Please don’t pump the breasts by offering the formula to your baby, this will lead to prolonged engorgement to you and early stop of breastfeeding by your baby.
The best way is to wait for your lactation system to normalize by following the simple steps of treatment (at home, not with medicine)
Once more, breastfeeding is not easy, it is the “hard work” of both, mother and baby towards a successful breastfeeding.