Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Breast Engorgement

I already wrote about the after-effects of breastfeeding Well, before you begin breastfeeding the milk has to generate. During the process, many women suffer from engorgement. No one had told me about this, but I had read a little about it and felt somewhat prepared. When my breasts filled with milk and became engorged at the hospital, I thought I was a freak-of-nature. My modest 34C boobs ballooned to giant double d's. My breasts were so stretched and full, the skin was as shiny as an apple. Oh, and they HURT. I felt hard knots which I later discovered were the milk ducts. My chest was also covered with visible dark blue veins. I looked more like an extra from Interview with a Vampire than a new lactating mother. I wish I'd taken pictures to share as I would have felt more prepared for such a transformation had I seen photos before hand.
Most infants find it difficult to suckle from such engorged breasts. It's best to pump some of the excess milk. You don't want to pump too much though, because pumping imitates breastfeeding and your body produces milk according to how much is consumed. Until your body gets accustomed to a feeding schedule, the hospital suggests ice packs for the swelling and pain or hot pads or a hot shower. If you can stand the pressure of the shower spray, it does help the milk to empty. Sometimes a hot shower would cause my boobs to simply "leak" while other times my boobs turned into power-washers that could spray several feet. It's quite a spectacle and very surreal...
more tips for preventing & treating engorgement


The Kept Woman said...

Lord those first few days are enough to make you want to jump off a high building. A breeze hurts.

I wish someone would have told me these things BEFORE I had Daughter #1. I went into some really dark days thinking I was a failure (b/c I was having a hard time breastfeeding).

Thanks for this!

Kelley said...

I think a lot of "dark days" and mild post-partum depression could be avoided with just knowing certain things ahead of time and not feeling alone.

nilblogette said...

I haven't had children yet, and there is plenty about it that scares me, but I figured breast feeding would be the easy part! Thank goodness for this post, because I probably would have been terrified if that happened while taking a shower and I didn't know it was normal.