How to Relieve Pain from Engorgement

Hi mamas! I’m Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC, owner of Lactation Link. I’m here to share today some tips on engorgement. I get asked several times a week how to relieve the pain and pressure of engorgement that can occur while breastfeeding. This often happens within the first week of baby’s life. I hope these tips and solutions help!

1. Ensure a proper latch.  Sometimes new or expectant moms wonder why I spend so much time going over latch in my Breastfeeding Basics class.  Having a proper latch is what ensures milk is being removed.  If you are trying to breastfeed frequently as recommended, but the latch is poor and milk isn’t being removed, it makes engorgement worse!  Also, when breastmilk stays in the breast too long (due to an improper latch), you become susceptible to something called milk stasis, which leads to the M word (mastitis).

Ensuring a proper latch can make all the difference.

Ensuring a proper latch can make all the difference.

2. Feed frequently.  Sometimes infants have difficulty latching during engorgement because the breast tissue gets pulled tightly and may even shorten the nipple temporarily.  Feeding every 2-3 hours or sooner helps release the pressure surrounding the breast and enable easier latching.

Lil'buds® slip easily into a nursing bra or tank for targeted relief.

Lil'buds® slip easily into a nursing bra or tank for targeted relief.

3. Use Hot/Cold therapies.  One of my favorite things to recommend to moms for use during engorgement are lil'buds® Breast Comfort Packs (shop now with code 'LLINK' for 10% off).  They are infused with lavender and flax seed and can be heated or cooled!  I recommend using them for heat, 10-20 minutes before a feeding.  Some moms have found the warmth to be pain relieving. The warmth can also get the milk flowing. Before latching for a feed, throw the packs in the freezer.  After the breastfeeding session is complete, place the cooled comfort packs in your bra for a max of 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.  Doing this before and after every feed can relieve some discomfort.

4. Consider a pain-reliever. Many moms find ibuprofen to be helpful.  Even moms who are not sore due to delivery may consider continuing an NSAID pain-reliever like ibuprofen during engorgement.  Medications like this contain anti-inflammation agents that help reduce engorgement (an inflammatory process).

5. Hand Expression.  I teach hand expression in all my classes and personal consultations because it can be used in so many ways.  For engorgement, it can be used to help facilitate latch.  As I mentioned in tip #2 above, sometimes latch can become difficult during engorgement, due to tightly pulled skin around the nipple and areola.  You can utilize hand expression before latching to express just enough breastmilk to soften the breast tissue and latch your baby.

Useing lil'buds® hot or cold on engorged breasts helps relieve pain.

Useing lil'buds® hot or cold on engorged breasts helps relieve pain.

I hope these tips give you some solutions so you can continue to breastfeeding with confidence!  It's our goal to help every mama achieve their breastfeeding goals.  If you want more info, click below to visit my website, order video classes, get my free 6 day breastfeeding course, or schedule an econsult.

About the Author
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC is a mom of 2, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.  She owns Lactation Link, a private practice offering breastfeeding support through her breastfeeding video classes, blog, and online support forum. She also offers in-home (or hospital) lactation support services as well online lactation support services before and after baby is born. Lindsey’s goal is to empower women through education to reach their goals, whatever they may be.  To schedule an econsult with me, click here.