Breastfeeding Challenges | UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge

Urgent Care Fort Dodge

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What Do I Do When My Breasts Are Full Or Engorged?

Fullness/Engorgement begins between 2-5 days after delivery and usually lasts for 2-4 days. It is caused by your milk increasing, but also from extra fluid, swelling to your breasts.

  • Breastfeed your baby every 1-3 hours. The more you nurse baby, the more relief you get.
  • Avoid giving any formula unless it is for medical reasons. You want baby to nurse often to relieve you.
  • Baby should have a full lower areolar latch with a wide open mouth. (Baby removes more milk.)
  • Change nursing positions so baby's nose is pointed toward the full firm area of your breast.
  • If the breast is too hard to latch, use warm moist cloths for 10 minutes before breastfeeding.
  • Pump or hand express for a few minutes before nursing to soften your breast so baby can latch.
  • Use gentle breast massage before and during the feeding.
  • Nurse baby on the first breast to soften, this may be 10-20 minutes and then offer the second breast.
  • Try to nurse both breasts at each feeding.  Repeat if baby is still hungry.
  • If breasts still feel very full after breastfeeding, or baby only nursed one side or nursed for a short time, pump both breasts 15-20 minutes (remember to use massage).
  • If baby still cannot latch, pump your breasts every 1-3 hours (for 15-20 minutes) to remove milk and decrease engorgement (remember to use massage).
  • Feed baby your pumped milk with a slow flow nipple. ( ½ - 1 ½ oz = 15-45ml every 1-3 hours)
  • Apply cold clothes or washed green cabbage leaves after each feeding/pumping for 10-15 minutes after nursing or pumping to decrease the pain and swelling of your breasts.

Call Trinity Birth Center with more questions or if baby cannot latch well at (515) 574-6052.