Hi, I’m Alissa Pemberton. I’m a lactation consultant and holistic sleep coach. I’m going to share with you some of the common issues that I come across around breastfeeding and my top tips to help.
It’s common, particularly when your milk first comes in after your baby’s born that your breasts will get in gorged. They will feel very full and very firm and can be quite uncomfortable.
Generally, this will start to settle down after those first few weeks and as your milk supply regulates around six to eight weeks, most moms find that the majority of that engorgement goes away, but while your breasts are in gorged it can be really difficult for your baby to latch on because of how full and firm they are so there’s a couple of easy things that you can do to help with this
The first thing is using cold compresses or cold packs on your breasts can help. This helps to reduce the blood flow and reduce any swelling that’s there. The second thing that you can do, if you need to is that you can hand express a little bit of milk before your baby feeds, just to soften the breast, make it more malleable and easier for your baby to latch onto. The third thing, which is really helpful in case of engagement is called reverse pressure softening. And this might be particularly helpful for mums whose breasts are quite a demetris or swollen. If they’ve been pumping a lot or for moms who’ve had a lot of ivy fluids in labor, and it can generally make you quite swollen, which can impact on how well your baby latch.
So for reverse pressure softening, what you need to do is use your fingers. And what we’re doing is that we’re trying to reduce some of that swelling around the nipple and the areola to make that area softer and more malleable. So you want to position yourself lying down so that we’re allowing gravity to help drain that fluid.
You can use your fingers in a number of different ways, so you can pop fingers on either side of the areola starting right near the nipple. And then we’re just pressing in firmly, but comfortably and sweeping backwards. And just very slowly repeating that motion. You can also use your finger and thumb on either side and sweeping back like this. Or you can use all of your fingertips, like a little flower petal. You can start around the nipple and then sweep back across the areola.
You want to do this for at least a couple of minutes before your baby feeds, depending on how engorged and how it damages your breasts are. You might find you need to do sort of five or 10 minutes until you feel like that has really softened. And then as soon as you’ve done that, while you’re lying down, then sit up and latch your baby on. As soon as you can, before that swelling has a chance to return.
Once your milk supply naturally starts to calm down and it regulates to what your baby’s taking, you should find that engorgement doesn’t provide such a problem for you. But if you can try either just expressing a little bit before baby feeds or doing some of that reverse pressure softening, you’ll find that the breast is a lot more malleable and it’s much easier for baby to latch onto even when they’re quite full.