While you were carrying life inside your womb, patiently awaiting the arrival the of your little bundle of joy, you may have underestimated and were probably were underprepared for a lot of things: long episodes of crying, lost sleep, postnatal pain and a lot more. However, one look at your sweet little baby suddenly makes all these challenges seem much easier.
One more thing that you perhaps weren’t prepared for post-childbirth are huge, heavy, hard breasts that are tender to the touch and feel like they’re about to explode. If this is the case with you, you’re likely experiencing breast engorgement.
Breast engorgement means the breasts are overfilled with milk and are painful. It usually occurs when a mother’s breast produces more milk than her baby feeds. The breasts may become hard and swollen. Engorgement may occur:
Breast engorgement is a common breastfeeding problem. You may also experience engorgement if you skip a feeding or miss a pumping session. When it does happen, address it as soon as possible to prevent complications. If left untreated, engorgement can lead to potentially serious issues including painful breasts, plugged milk ducts, difficulty in breastfeeding and problems with your milk supply.
It is normal for a woman’s breasts to become larger, heavier and a little sore somewhere between the second and fifth day after giving birth. This is because the breasts begin producing greater quantities of milk. Some of the fullness is also due to extra blood and lymph fluids in the breast tissue. This fullness will ease within the first two to three weeks after delivery. After this period, your breasts would feel softer, even when your milk supply is plentiful.
If your breasts feel hard, swollen, throbbing, lumpy, uncomfortably full, or painful, you are likely experiencing breast engorgement. The swelling may extend all the way to your armpit and you may even run a low fever.
Engorgement can make it difficult for your baby to latch on properly and breastfeed effectively. The areola may get hard and lead to painful nipples as well a low supply of milk in due course of time.
Whenever breast milk builds up in your breasts and is not removed regularly or fully, swelling and firmness can develop. Breast engorgement may be caused if :
Regardless of the cause of breast engorgement, it can be painful and lead to other complications as discussed above. Here is how it can be treated.
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