In the first week after birth, you may feel that your chest is swollen, that it feels tight and hard, and throbbing and heavy. Sometimes the swelling expands to the shoulders. The swelling is usually caused by high blood flow and accumulation of lymph fluid in the tissue. Maybe you even have elevated temperature. Do not worry - as terrible as it may sound, it's still a temporary, though painful, phenomenon.
What causes it?
Two to six days after birth, the milk "shoots" in large quantities, at which point your breast is better supplied with blood and the tissue around it swells, resulting in a feeling of tightness through swollen and filled breasts.
Not every young mother experiences this feeling of tension. For some women, the milk does not shoot in such a large amount, but others find their breasts surprisingly large and hard.
How can I handle this?
First of all, try to think that this is a good sign: your body produces milk to feed your baby, and with its help, your body will soon produce the right amount. Until then:
- Wear a breast support nursing bra, even at night. Make sure that he sits comfortably and does not constrict.
- Do it regularly every two to three hours, even if it means you need to wake your baby. Make sure your child drinks at both breasts during a breastfeeding meal. Encourage you to drink at least 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.
- If the areola - the dark areola that surrounds the nipple - is very taut, it may be difficult for your baby to suck on the breast. To help prevent the risk of nipple infection and to help suckle your baby, you can stroke or pump some milk by hand until the areola is less firm. For many, sweetening milk under the warm shower is easier. Alone the warm water can cause a milk flow, so that the areola relaxes. But that may take time! Stay patient and do not give up!
- Avoid pumping milk except to relax the areola or if the baby refuses the second breast. Excessive or habitual pumping can lead to overproduction of milk, resulting in a persistent feeling of tightness.
- While breastfeeding gently massage the breast on which the baby drinks. This promotes the flow of milk and helps to relieve the feeling of tension and other ailments.
- To relieve pain and help to reduce swelling, you can put cooling pads on the chest for a short time after breastfeeding. You can also use quark for cooling (apply quark directly to the breast, apply it thickly with a blower and tie it tightly to the body with a large diaper as a triangular cloth, then wash it off after about 20 minutes).
- Cooling can even cause the milk to flow better again because the tissue around the milk lakes is less swollen.
- Some women think that fresh cabbage leaves from the fridge - placed on the chest - can help. To do this, cut off the stalk from two larger cabbage leaves and cut a hole in each leaf for the nipples. Before putting it on your chest, wash and dry it. Then walk briefly with a rolling pin or a bottle to release enzymes. Also very effective is Retterspitz outwardly (cooling liquid) or Retterspitz-Quick-Ointment.
- If you have severe pain, take a light analgesic, e.g. Paracetamol (but you should talk to your doctor first).
- Avoid heat, such as Warm washcloths or hot water bottles on the inflamed chest, unless you want to promote milk flow and make the areola supple. Heat reduces the pain less and makes the situation worse.
- Think ahead: You will quickly overcome this phase, and soon you will enjoy breastfeeding with your child.
- Ask your midwife if she can help with a taping. Many midwives now use the colorful elastic tapes to relieve a variety of ailments (e.g., pregnancy sickness). Even with strong and long-lasting feeling of tightness, they can provide improvement.
How long will it take?
Luckily, the feeling of tension disappears quite quickly. Within 24 to 48 hours, it will become weaker. Regular breastfeeding helps your child. If you do not breastfeed, it will probably get worse before it gets better.
Some women barely register this pain because they are so busy with all the changes in the first days after birth - from total exhaustion to the joy of their newborn.
Can I breastfeed anyway?
You can and should do it. If possible, you should apply your child to the breast immediately after birth and from then on regularly. Watch for signs of hunger in your child, such as sucking on the fist or restlessness. When it cries, it has already developed an appetite.
The tension in the breasts subsides after a few days, then your breasts are supple, although they are still filled with milk.
Can it harm my child?
No - no way! It could be a bit dissatisfied at the most, because it has to work harder to drink.