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Breastfeeding – full breasts factsheet

Soon after your baby is born, after the first few days when colostrum (first milk) is produced, a mother’s milk will come in. This is when quantities of milk are produced for the baby. It takes a while for your body to gauge how much milk to produce, so initially you may have full breasts and the areola may be firm. This may be uncomfortable for a short while, but should all settle down within a few days. Your baby may find it difficult to latch on too but there things that can be done to remedy this.

What should I do?

Feed your baby if your breasts feel uncomfortable and tender. This will help to relieve some of the engorgement.Make sure the latch is correct too, to avoid soreness. Make sure your baby empties the breast as much as possible – avoiding swapping sides if you can. You can also express in between feeds. This can help ease any discomfort but also make it easier for your baby to latch o if your nipples are firm.

Taking a warm shower or using a warm flannel can help to soothe any discomfort. Cold flannels or ice packs applied after a feed could help to reduce any pain or swelling. Paracetamol could be taken too if you are in pain, although it is important to read the packet’s instructions before taking any.

Some people believe that applying cooled cabbage leaves can also help with discomfort, although this has not been scientifically proven.

Be aware of infection. Mastitis can develop (the tissue in the breast becomes inflamed and painful). This is caused by a build-up of milk and can cause infection. See a GP if you suspect this as antibiotics may be prescribed.

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