Breasts tenderness, cracked nipples or lumps are common issues that most mothers have to deal with after giving birth.Triggered by your hormonal changes, find out what you can do to manage these issues.
Sudden increase in milk volume will cause congestion of the blood vessels in the breasts and cause the breasts to get overly full. The breasts become hard and tender, and will look tight and shiny. The areola seems firm. This is in contrary with breasts fullness which can still be compressible, soft and flexible. Engorged breasts can cause difficulty for baby to latch onto them as well as trouble to extract milk.
To treat breasts engorgement, try these:
- Let your baby suck both breasts alternately. If there is excess milk after breastfeeding, use a breast pump to pump out the excess milk.
- Cover the breasts with hot towel, gently rubbing the breasts with your hands and massage the back too. Ask your husband to help you massage your back, 2-3 times a day, each time at least 10 minutes.
- Drink some soup to make your breast milk not too thick.
- Continue breastfeeding and breastfeed your baby frequently (10 – 12 times a day)
- Ensure that you are using a proper positioning technique and posture
- Before feeding, gently express some of the milk to soften the breast, so that your baby can latch on
- After feeding, if your breast is still hard, express the remaining milk.
- Apply warm and moist compresses to your breasts to increase milk flow.
- Use cold compresses between feeds to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation
Improper positioning of the baby during feeding time and incorrect nipple care may cause your nipples to sore, crack or even become susceptible to nipple eczema or fungal infections. Nipple eczema refers to your red, blacky, itching, oozing and/or inflamed areolas while fungal infected nipples will cause a burning sensation and itching. Your sore nipple will be slightly pink to red in color.
To treat sore nipples, try these:
- Let your baby suck on the nipple that is not cracked and make sure your baby’s mouth covers the whole nipple and areola.
- Squeeze some milk out after each feeding and apply it over the nipples and areola. This is because the protein in the milk helps to improve healing of the cracked nipples.
- If you have severe cracked nipples, you should take care of the nipples first and pump the milk out with breast pump.
- Continue breastfeeding using proper positioning and latching on technique
- Consult a doctor if there is no improvement
- Do not wear plastic breast shield that holds in moisture
- Avoid wearing a bra made of synthetic fabric which increases sweating and hinders evaporation, use cotton bra instead
- Wash your breasts only with water, not soap. Using soap or soapy solution will remove natural skin moisturizer and can cause excessively dry skin.
Should I use hot pack or cold pack to reduce breast swelling?
Cold compresses can reduce breast congestion and slow milk secretion, thereby reducing the pressure and pain at the lump.
Hot compresses can help breast milk flow and improve breast circulation, but only apply to breast before breastfeeding or when it is severely clogged, otherwise breast swelling will be exacerbated.