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Breast Engorgement Treatment

Early treatment is necessary for breast engorgement. This involves frequent breastfeeding with complete emptying of the breasts at each feeding. Massage may also help soften the breast. For women who are bottle feeding, treatment for breast engorgement involves expressing just enough milk to relieve the pressure (production may increase if non-breastfeeding mothers pump too much milk).

Treating Breast Engorgement: What Can You Do?

Whether you are planning to breastfeed or bottle feed, the key to dealing with breast engorgement is to treat it early. Doing so will prevent possible complications.

Relieving Breast Engorgement While Breastfeeding

If breast fullness does turn into engorgement, you should start treating it as quickly as you can. This should involve frequent breastfeeding with complete emptying of the breasts at each feeding. Massage may help your baby to latch on better by softening the breast.
Here are four tried and true ways to relieve engorgement. If you implement all four suggestions for a day or two, you should experience relief from the symptoms of engorgement.
The suggested ways to treat breast engorgement are:
  • Before breastfeeding, apply a warm, wet washcloth for 5 to 10 minutes. Gently massage the breast from the back going forward towards the nipple. This will help start the let-down of milk. This also can be done in the shower. Be careful not to use excessive heat, however, as that could increase the swelling.
  • While your breast is still warm, either pump or have your baby nurse. If the nipple has flattened out, either express by hand or pump out enough milk so the areola is soft and the nipple stands out. This will allow your baby to latch on properly so she can drain your breast and relieve the fullness.
You should not express by hand or pump for more than two to five minutes before having your baby nurse, as this could stimulate even more milk production.
  • Breastfeed frequently -- at least every one to two hours while trying to relieve the engorgement. Nurse or pump to remove the milk. The more frequently your baby nurses, the sooner the breast engorgement will go away.
  • Apply a cold compress after each feeding. The cold will help decrease the swelling and pain. A cloth diaper or a dish towel wet with water and placed in the freezer for about 15 minutes works well. The cloth will mold itself around the breast and provide an equal distribution of cooling all around.  
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