Engorgement. What it is and how to relieve it.

Engorgement usually appears in some mothers during the first days after giving birth, just before the milk comes in. Firstly, clarify that the rise of milk is not its production but refers to a vascularization of the breasts. And what is vascularization? Explained very roughly, it means that the lactiferous ducts are being prepared for when there is milk. This process makes the breasts harder and increases in size and temperature.

In this process of rising, there may be milk in some cases that, together with lymph and blood, can produce excess fluid, engorgement, which has to be drained as it can lead to mastitis.

It may happen that as these are also the first days of our baby’s life, he or she is not breastfeeding well or perhaps prefers to sleep more than eat, which facilitates the accumulation of fluid.


Below I explain a series of procedures to help drain and relieve the breasts:


First and foremost, put our son to breastfeed. It is important now and throughout the breastfeeding period that the baby has a good latch. So be patient and go for it.


If the baby cannot cope, we will proceed to express the milk manually. But be careful, because breast pumps are not recommended because the suction of these devices is more powerful and what would cause more production of lymph and milk.


Ice is considered an anti-inflammatory so it is recommended before each feeding and always avoiding the breast areola. Being a vasoconstrictor, ice will cause the ducts to narrow and therefore not as much liquid to pass through.


A lymphatic massage is also advisable; We will place our fingers around the nipple and press towards the back (as seen in the image above). With this we want the areola to soften, be more appetizing for the baby to hold and thus the breast can drain naturally. It is advisable to do it before each feeding whenever we have a very hard areola. It can be a bit cumbersome if the baby breastfeeds on demand since we will have to drain every time she feels like eating.


There is another natural remedy that I know that even some midwives recommend and that is to put on a cabbage leaf. First you have to destroy it a little so that the filaments that the leaf has break so that the substance they have reaches the skin better. This substance has the ability to absorb heat and also reduces inflammation.


And of course, if you have nipple discomfort, you put on the Mamaceram wax areolas to help soothe them.

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