5 Tricks to Ease Engorgement

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Image adapted via Flickr/ Daniel Peinado

About three to five days after your baby is born, you'll probably wake up after a not-long-enough nap, look down, and see that your breasts have grown two cup sizes overnight. Yes, your milk is finally in, but ouch! Engorged breasts hurt!

If you have breast engorgement or want to know what to do in case it develops, here are 5 tricks to ease the pain — after you've checked for proper latch:

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Image via Flickr/ malmesjo

Hand Express

If you don't have your baby with you or they're finally peacefully sleeping and your breasts are sore, try hand expressing. It's not going to get out a whole lot, but that's what you want. You want to remove just enough milk to make yourself comfortable, but not enough to encourage your body to produce more milk.

{ MORE: My Baby Won't Stop Biting While Breastfeeding: Tips to Navigate this Frustrating Experience }

Not sure how to hand express? Dr. Sears tells you the steps!

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Image via Flickr/ Raphael Goetter

Cabbage Leaves

It may sound weird, but it actually works. I relied on this relief method after the birth of my fourth child when I was desperate enough to try anything. I was happy to see that it worked really well and that the cold leaves felt so comforting on my sore breasts.

{ MORE: Nursing in the Cold: Check Out These Ultra Warm Nursing Tops }

Breastfeeding Online has an excellent article that will walk you through how to use cabbage leaves for comfort.

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Image via Flickr/ c r z

Take a Warm Shower

If you've ever had sore muscles and joints after an injury or big workout, you'll know that a hot shower can really help the ache. The same goes for breast engorgement, but the hot water will also encourage your breasts to release some milk, adding to the comfort.

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{ MORE: 5 Tips to Help You Deal with Nursing Pain }

KellyMom advises that if you are going to take a warm shower, not to stay too long, as the heat can actually increase inflammation and swelling.

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Image via Flickr/ myllissa

Wear a Supportive Bra

Once your milk comes in, it can be really hard to figure out what size bra you should be wearing. If your breasts are engorged and you're uncomfortable, you'll want to find a bra that provides good support, but it's also important to make sure it's not too tight (which can increase your chance of developing mastitis or clogged ducts).

{ MORE: How a Tongue or Lip Tie May Be Having a Negative Effect on Your Breastfeeding Relationship }

Try a nursing bra that's advertised for sleeping (they look like sports bras) because it will give that comfort, and they usually have more stretch to accommodate your larger and growing size.

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Image via Flickr/ myllissa

Try Various Feeding Positions

Some positions are easier for baby to latch and express milk than others. Switching the way you feed your baby may help empty your breast. By doing so, you'll likely feel less engorged and experience more relief after each feeding.

{ MORE: What You Need to Know About Tongue Tie and Speech Development }

The La Leche League has a great article that shows the different ways you can position your baby while breastfeeding.

Did you experience painful engorgement? What helped you? Share in the comments!

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5 Tricks to Ease Engorgement

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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