I remember having a lot of problems with breastfeeding my 1st. If you have read any of my earlier articles, you will know that this is the reason I became a lactation consultant. I wanted to help other women from experiencing what I did. I remember when my milk first came in and my daughter still wasn’t latching. I could literally not walk 2 feet without being in agony. My breasts were warm and hard like rocks. Finally after an additional 2 days, she latched and we were on our way from there.
When your milk first comes in, your breast will become extremely full or potentially engorged. Your breasts may feel warm and quite hard. If your baby has a good latch and is transferring the milk properly, you have nothing to worry about. These sensations shouldn’t last too long. Engorgement is your body responding to the needs of your baby. Until your breasts, brain and baby get in sync, you will find that you will be over producing and often feeling extremely full or engorged. The reason for this is your brain doesn’t know how much your baby requires so it is giving you lots of extra just in case. Once everything is in a rhythm, you will find that you are feeling less full even though you have plenty of milk for your baby.
When breast engorgement becomes a problem, is when your baby isn’t transferring the milk from your breast to their mouth properly. This can lead to a blocked duct and potentially mastitis.
The best way to prevent engorgement is to feed often and not stop the amount of time your baby is at the breast. Let them finish and allow them to move onto the other side. To understand the signs of when your milk is slowing down and baby is not getting as much, you need to watch their jaw movements. Please visit my website for more tips and video’s (www.latchwithme.com). Another amazing tip is reverse pressure softening. These will alleviate some pressure around the areola and nipple to make it easier for the baby to latch. Visit http://www.salactationconsultants.co.za/Articles/Reverse%20Pressure%20Softening.pdf for a detailed description as well as diagrams.
One thing I personally advise against is frequent pumping or hand expression. When you do that, you are sending a message to your brain to continue producing the milk. If this is over and above what your baby is ready for, then you may continue becoming engorged. As already mentioned, you need to let your baby, breasts and brain get in sync.
If you have any concerns, contact a local lactation consultant or competent Doctor to help guide you through your issues. You are steps away from a pain free beautiful breastfeeding experience. It’s worth it!