Breast Feeding: In the Beginning « Allied Health World Blog

Breast Feeding: In the Beginning

The first few days after your baby is born will be a dramatic change for your breasts. Initially, your breast will be feed your new baby colostrum. This yellowish liquid is much thicker than regular breast milk and is full of important nutrients and immune building components. As your breast milk come in your breast may become engorged. This commonly occurs and should be anticipated during the first few days. Your breast can become severely engorged if your baby does not nurse often enough or effectively enough. Extreme engorgement can cause swelling of the milk ducts in the breasts and of blood vessels across the entire chest area.

Babies tend to be very sleepy during the first several days home. It is very likely that your baby will sleep through a feeding. As much as you may try to wake your baby, it can be difficult sometimes to get him to feed completely on both breasts. If this happens to you, the best treatment for relieving your full breasts is to express milk between feedings. You can do this manually or with a pump. As much as possible, try and make sure that your baby is nursing on each breast at every feeding. Warmth encourages milk flow. If you find it difficult for your milk to "let down" a warm bath can help the process along. You can even express in the shower if you do not intend to store any of the milk for future use. Warm compresses applied around the breast are also effective.

Cabbage leaves are another alternative to help relieve some of the engorgement. Applying a leaf of cabbage over the breast can cause the breast to "let down" its milk and allow you to express the breast milk more easily. This alternative is effective when the breasts are extremely engorged. Warm compresses should not be used of the breasts are extremely engorged because the warm compress will increase blood flow in the area and cause more pain. Cold compresses can be used to relieve pain from extreme engorgement.