Engorgement Engorgement is caused by normal hormonal changes that send extra blood and fluids to your breasts. It can be avoided however. Nurse your baby frequently and efficiently. Let him/her nurse as often and as long as they want. This is very important.
If you are too full and it becomes impossible for the baby to latch onto the breast you may want to apply ice packs or frozen vegetables to the breasts to decrease the swelling. Cold green cabbage leaves applied to the breasts provide relief and decrease swelling to engorged breasts. Cabbage leaves contain mustard oil, magnesium, oxylate and sulphur heterosides. The sulfa in the amino-acid methionine acts as an antibiotic and anti-irritant, which appears to dilate the capillaries and acts as a counter-irritant drawing extra blood to the area to relieve engorgement and inflammation. Those allergic to sulfa should not use this treatment. Use a fork and score the cabbage leaves, place leaves on the breasts and remove when wilted or are no longer cool. About 20 minutes on the breast every couple of hours will offer some relief. Store unused cabbage in the refrigerator for later use.
Plugged Ducts Plugged ducts can be a common problem after cracked nipples are healing or beginning to heal. The skin around the nipple may toughen and block milk from exiting the breast properly. If you suspect a plugged duct, signs may include:
· A pea-size knot in the breast that does not soften during feeding · Sharp pain in the breast that does not diminish during feeding
Using a bowl or basin of warm water, submerge the breast in the water for 10 minutes and then immediately nurse the baby on that breast to loosen the plugged duct. This may take several attempts, but will pull the plugged duct out. Avoiding underwires in your bra will also prove beneficial, as the wire in the bra may press on the ducts and lead to plugged ducts. A comfortable bra is important as your breasts will change during lactation.
Mastitis Mastitis may start as a tender area in the breast, much like a plugged duct. The difference with mastitis is it an infection and should be treated by your provider. The possible signs of Mastitis are:
· Fever · Flu like symptoms: fever, chills, headache and nausea · Red swollen area in one or both breasts · Tender and hot breasts