25 answers

Extreme Case of Breastfeeding Engorgement, Anyone Else Been Thru This?

Am breastfeeding, baby is 5 days old. Have done this before with first two kids. Have always become ridiculously engorged when the milk comes in, but this time is so extreme I can't believe it. My milk started coming in before we even left the hospital, but now for the past 2.5 days I have been engorged so badly, that each breast is at least 6 inches diamter, and red, swollen, and bruised, and rock hard. Am able to feed the baby, it's not fun, but I am managing.
I think I could literally feed 5 babies right now.
Has anyone else been thru this???? I feel like my breasts are not getting any better at all. I ran hot water in the shower and let them leak, but am realizing this is probably not the best idea, nor is pumping, because my breasts will think they need to make even more milk.
I have heard that icing them after nursing might help, and also there is something about cabbage leaves? Has anyone done this, did it work?
I know I can call a lactation consultant, and probably will tomorrow, but I also really just want to hear other moms input who have been thru this. Thanks.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

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Mine did that with the first baby, and they were so huge and hard (they looked like footballs) the baby wouldn't drink at all, so we had to have a lactation consultant come. I didn't know what to do since it was my first baby, but she helped me express milk out to get it softer, then the baby drank. That day I rented a good pump and for several months I pumped a lot and froze it for times when my husband could feed the baby. The second baby I was ready and had a pump ready.

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I know everyone is telling you not to pump, but some of us are just great producers. I've had three children and I would have died without a pump. My breasts went from a 32dd to 36I, seriously. Let-down was agony.
Pump just to take the edge off, even a few seconds helps. Freeze the milk for future uses, which could be in a few months.

Don't be afraid to pump--it was my life-savior!
Good luck

2 moms found this helpful

I've been there....ouch! I had the same issues...bruising and rock hard engorgment. I've heard cabbage leaves work, but I haven't tried them. What I've done is take towels (hand sized) and get them wet with really warm water and ring them out. Then I folded them in half and literally wrapped each breast up and let it sit for a few minutes. I would try to relax with a few breaths and then gently massage a little. It would relieve the pressure enough and soften to allow baby to latch on. I too, had so much milk I could have fed another baby! I decided to pump a little to relieve the pain and after a couple weeks my body regulated and everything worked out.
One day at a time....in another week or so, you'll be much better:)

Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

Cabbage leaves are soothing and really work! I also liked that I was relying on something that nature makes naturally to help women heal.

Take strength from this community of women who care about you - and congrats!!!
L.

2 moms found this helpful

Mine did that with the first baby, and they were so huge and hard (they looked like footballs) the baby wouldn't drink at all, so we had to have a lactation consultant come. I didn't know what to do since it was my first baby, but she helped me express milk out to get it softer, then the baby drank. That day I rented a good pump and for several months I pumped a lot and froze it for times when my husband could feed the baby. The second baby I was ready and had a pump ready.

2 moms found this helpful

YES! I feel your pain!
Get cabbage leaves, from the fridge even better, and literally wrap your breasts in them, something about them takes out the heat and helps. I had my lactation nurse prescribe 4 advil every 8 hours because my swelling and inflammation was interfering with milk coming down at all. I literally had to squeeze the milk out for a few days (like milking a cow) because I was so swollen/hard. She also told me to pump for 1 minute before each feeding (not more) to get it flowing. Only had to pump for about a week. I would definitely go to the lactation nurse right away if I had to do it again, she saved my sanity!

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Oh yah. Sooooo did that. Each of my breasts was literally Bigger Than My Head. It was like I was Anime Girl. Would have been funny if it hadn't been so painful/impractical. (I had to wear two of my husband parka SHELLS to get to the lactation consultant, one frontwards and one backwards because nothing even came close to fitting. Ugh.)

She did 3 things: Gave me a soft plastic nipple cover thing to use while nursing for the next couple days until the un-engorged themselves.....AND said feed, pump, & express away. Clear it all out, and after a couple of days the flood would retreat. Which it did....AND said have at the tylenol and ibuprofen (2 extrastrength tylenol, 800mg ibuprofen), ice, & recliner (aka, don't try and do anything that was going to be bouncing them around.

The anti-inflamatories & pain relievers, icing, and expressing provided instant relief...the nipple shield thingmys helped my son get a LOT more milk (was the best thing at relieving the pressure, actually)...and after a few days my breasts figured out that they didn't have to feed octuplets.

Ouch.

2 moms found this helpful

I placed a diaper around the breast I was not nursing on, and during nursing "let down", it will fill the diaper, then after nursing, massage each breast to relieve the fullness and pain. It will only be a few days, but now I know it is Awful!I did frozen bag of peas or corn, just set it on them, kinda like a shelf right now ;) and the cold will help the pain, I had to use diapers or maxi pads on my breasts (under bra) for the first 2 weeks will all 6, I leaked So much. Good luck, almost over.

2 moms found this helpful

Try peppermint tea, it will temporarily reduce your milk production. Unknowingly, I drank a ton of peppermint tea over a 2 day period to help an upset stomach. My milk production dropped drastically and it took 4 days of desperate and painful nursing by my 14 month old to get it back up to normal again. And since it's summer, peppermint tea makes a nice iced tea. Try drinking a lot of it and you should see your milk production decrease, then as the baby nurses more you can stop drinking it and your milk production will go back up.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,

I feel for you, I went through the same thing with both my sons. When I was in the hospital with my first son, I got so huge I couldn't even feed my son and the nurses put heated get packs around both my breasts so they could soften enough for my son to eat and I could pump to relieve the pressure. It worked like a charm. I did the same thing at home with my second son by using the microwavable gel packs (be careful, not too hot, you don't want to burn yourself) and those along with massage in a really warm shower kept me from painful engorgement. I hope this info helps. Congrats on the birth of your new little one! Good luck!

Y.

1 mom found this helpful

You should absolutely pump. Your body will reset it's self in a few days . Just pump the fore milk in the amount your baby consumes ( 1 oz , 2oz) wait a hour and pump again. Your production should slow down . If the milk sits in your breasts a long time you run the risk of infection to a greater degree.

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(1) Place boobs inside the sink in warm water and (2) pump. Repeat 1 and 2 again and again. Sorry! I'm sure you were hoping for a more hassle-free technique. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm so sorry, that sounds miserable. I would call the lactation rep like you said right away. I have also heard of soaking the cabbage leaves in warm water or something and laying them across you breasts. I'm not sure if it's the actual cabbage that does something, or if it is just they are large enough to cover the entire area. Good luck and let us know what works for you. Can you take some Tylenol for the pain?

1 mom found this helpful

I know they say not to pump b/c it can increase your supply but when I was weaning, I had to! My breast was so engorged I couldn't recognize it- it was hard and full to the extreme. I thought this was normal as my body was regulating. I finally called a lacatation consultant after 4-5 days of this and she said pump, pump pump! yes, pumping will increase your supply, but only when done consistently. If you are that engorged, just pump enough to relieve the pressure, that is it. Your body will adjust down. At this stage, you really want to avoid mastitis- I had mastitis once, it is no fun. When I pumped during my engorgement while weaning, as my breast went down, I felt two rock hard lumps in my breast, so, I massaged them out while pumping. It made all the difference. The next day I was much better- I only had to pump that one time to get things back on track. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I know what you mean! I've pumped and massaged while I pumped to keep blockages from forming because those are so much worse when you're already in pain. Pump until you're comfortable. Like others have said, expressing in the shower feels good too. It will take probably two days to ease up. If you are looking for herbs that will reduce your production, eat Italian food. Parsley, oregano and sage in particular helped me reduce my production.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, the grass is always so much greener on the other side, isn't it. I had such trouble producing ENOUGH milk.

I say pump & freeze -- the freezer stock could be your lifeline later! If for some reason you're unable in the future to produce so well, you'll be happy to have the reserves in the freezer.

I do have one thing that would help the pain, though. I had some plugged ducts, and my lactation consultant had a great remedy that gave me some part-time relief (sounds weird though, so bear with me):

Take a paper diaper and cut off all the extra paper. Wet it. Put it into the microwave for a very short time (be careful that you don't get it too hot). Then cup it around your breast. The form-fitted warmth REALLY helps.

So much good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

Yes, I was the same way. You're right about not wanting to pump or hand express in the shower too much, but a couple ounces to relieve the pressure is fine. Also, I loved a heating pad and ib profren is ok too and will help with the inflamed breast tissue.

1 mom found this helpful

I had the same problem with both babies. You're right that you shouldn't pump because it will increase production, but you can manually express or just let them leak in the shower. As long as you're not stimulating the nipple, you won't increase production. Do massage and manually express so you can avoid plugged ducts and mastitis. Ice is good to decrease inflammation. My lactation consultant had me taking ibuprofen for that reason as well. And don't use heat - that will increase inflammation!

Another thing about pumping increasing production: when you have too much milk, your baby could consume too much foremilk, causing digestion problems. It's best for baby to really empty at least one breast at a feeding, thereby getting the right proportion of foremilk to hindmilk. I don't know how bad your problem is, but mine was so bad that I would feed on only one breast at least twice before I would switch to the other. During that time I would manually express from the other one. I don't know if that's what you have to do, but it's what worked for me.

1 mom found this helpful

congratulayions! We're in the same boat, my baby is 12 days old...my lactation consultant said to try and get the breasts soft- in addition to what you've already done- pump away! It really does help. Massage your breasts too..I wouldn't do cabbage, it can diminish your milk suuply. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,

I had extreme engorgement when I had my second baby. Get cabbage leaves, they work! Put them in the refrig so they are cool. Wrap your entire boob in them, it takes a while but it works....! Yes, you will walk around with cabbage leaves on your boobs but that's ok. I did it for weeks.....seriously. Moreover, I used the chinese cabbage but regular cabbage works, too. I also did warm water in the shower and massaging the breast a bit. This in combo with the cabbage leaves with hopefully help....!

Good luck and congrats!!

1 mom found this helpful

You can pump or express a little bit - just don't empty them completely. Just enough for comfort. Check out the Kelly Mom website (www.kellymom.com) for more info.

Congrats & best wishes to you & your family!!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Supply and demand...if it's difficult to nurse due to the size, the baby will then determine how much is produced. If baby isn't consuming it all, then the milk will reabsorb. Then, it will be more comfy for you and baby.

Ouch!! I remember this. This actually happened to me with my daughter. She was a day or two old and I was still in the hospital. My breasts were HUGE! I had no idea they could get that big! The nurses came in and told me to put heat pads on it. They gave me 2 of the tiny heating pads they put on babies feet before they give them an injection. I was in agony but determined to breastfeed I let her eat until I was raw! How miserable it was! I would definitely see a lactation consultant! Mine actually didn't come in the 2nd day because I had done so well the first day but when she came in on the 3rd day she was shocked! She ordered me a medical grade pump right away and soaked several wash cloths in warm water and wrapped them around my breasts (and shook her head at the ity bitty heat pads the nurse gave me). She brought in a pump right away and told me to stop latching my daughter on a for a day or two to give my nipples a rest. I was hesitant but was in lots of pain so I complied (it turned out fine and we happily breastfed for 10 months). So I pumped, used warm wash cloths, used lanolin cream and Tylenol and it got a little easier in a few days. The first month was still hard but I am so happy I stuck through it! It gets a lot easier after that. So in short. This was my story, I would recommend to pump and use wash cloths but my recommendation to you would be to go see a lactation consultant ASAP if you haven't already. Congrats and Good Luck!

I was extremely engorged in the first days of breastfeeding too. It was so bad that I felt as if I had mastitis (milk ducts which were so full that they clogged). The cabbage leaves worked wonderfully. I just changed the leaves after an hour or so to keep the coolness against my skin. Just pull off a full leaf of cabbage and tuck it in your bra so that it cups your breast. If you continue to breastfeed as usual, the engorgement will eventually subside. Good luck!

I did too!! Yes you can go and ice to help reduce the amount of milk your producing. I had to with my first and third babies. (The first one was still nursing when the second was born so both nursing easily helped to keep me from engorging)

Ice after baby nurses for 5-10 minutes each side. That way it causes the body to delay making more. Don't ice at all if you start to notice that you supply is slowing down. Use hot showers or heat packs to help produce more.

http://www.llli.org/FAQ/oversupply.html
(Love la leche league, always there with awesome info!)
Congrats on the little one!

Be very careful to monitor for infection. Sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Take vitamin c with bioflavanoids. Not any other kind. Must have bioflavanoids 2 at least 3 times a day with a tall glass of water. This will help your body recover and helps fight infection. You can buy it at Costco or a fancy natural foods store for more $$.

Cabbage leaves do work. Put the cabbage in the fridge so that it gets cold. Your milk will go down. I used to leak everywhere and soak 1/4 of my mattress, slept on top of towels with diapers on my breasts. It took me about a month with my 1st because I couldn't stand it and pumped.

Rest and eat well. Small nutrious meals every 2-3 hours.

Don't pump, you'll just prolong the agony.

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