What is Breast Engorgement – What Causes it?

FAQ

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Having a baby is extremely taxing on the body, and the burden it puts on your body doesn’t stop when the baby is born. During your pregnancy, you must cope with body changes and hormonal fluctuations. However, once your baby is born, a new set of changes come into play. Chief among these is the adjustment your body needs to make in terms of breastfeeding.

If you happen to think of it, when the baby was still attached via the umbilical cord, your body had a direct link to your baby and could monitor its development from the inside. Once the baby is out, it is like a blind man feeling his way around an unfamiliar room.

What is engorgement?

Most new mothers go through a phase where their breasts become engorged. If you don’t expect it, it can be quite an alarming experience. Your breasts swell to such an extent that it is extremely painful and sensitive to the touch. Your hubby shouldn’t dare come close to your breasts, or he might get an earful.

Don’t worry ladies, engorgement is quite reasonable, and it is in a way quite healthy. It means that you are producing more milk than what baby needs. At least you know that you aren’t producing too little milk. Although it is extremely uncomfortable for you, the baby is smiling all the way.

The good news

Luckily, engorgement doesn’t last forever, and if you are lucky, it could be a short-term problem that sorts itself out rather quickly. When the baby is born, your body needs to adjust to the new feeding schedule. Instead of producing too little milk. Your body prepares itself for the feast and caters for an ample supply of milk for the baby.

Before long, it will realize that it is making too much milk and will eventually produce less milk. In a way, your baby is the one who decides how long the entire process is going to take.

The excess

Nowadays, most moms and working moms. This can either be because they are chasing their careers, or they are forced to work to support their families. Whatever the case may be, engorgement could be used for the greater good for working moms.

Maternity leave doesn’t last forever, and when mom needs to go back to work, baby still needs to feed regularly. Instead of opting for the formula, moms can use engorgement as a starting point for expressing milk via a pump. It takes some extra planning, but instead of having baby decide how much milk is enough, mom can pump out the excess and build a supply of milk for when she needs to go back to work.

Mother’s milk is easily stored in a freezer and can last for a long time. Expressing milk daily will stimulate enough milk production for baby and expressing, making going back to work much less of a stress.

Are there any risks?

Pregnancy and babies come with considerable risk, and not many moms are prepared for the hammering that their bodies go through to have children. When their breasts become engorged the risks go both ways. Because the breast is firm and the nipples flat, baby can struggle to latch and become reluctant to drink in the end. This could lead to baby not gaining sufficient weight because of malnutrition. In the end, it could lead to early weaning and put the baby on formula.

For the mother, the risks go beyond having full and sensitive breasts. The milk ducts could become clogged because the baby isn’t latching. The ripple effect is that the breast stays full of milk and doesn’t produce new milk. The pressure in the breast could lead mom to leak milk as well. However, the most painful risk that mothers run is to develop mastitis which causes inflammation of the breast tissue.

The easiest way to treat engorgement is to ensure regular feeding schedules. This will promote healthy milk development and keep baby and mom happy and pain-free.