Breast Feeding


What do women usually complain of?

  • When the milk starts flowing, breasts may feel full and uncomfortable.
  • Some women have no discomfort at all, others have heavy, stony hard, engorged breasts, and pain.
  • A brief spike of fever – even a single chill – may occur at this time. It is sometimes called ‘milk fever’ and it is not due to bacterial infection, and need not cause great alarm. If it persists for more than 24 hours, it may be something serious.

What causes engorgement?

  • These symptoms are partly due to an increased amount of tissue fluid in the breast, which decreases spontaneously after some days.
  • They are also due to excess milk in the breasts, because at first milk production is poorly adjusted to demand, and often there is enough for two babies.

How to solve this problem?

  • The simple answer to this problem of engorgement is to express excess milk – which provides rapid relief of the pain and other symptoms. This may also, by reducing the pressure within the breasts, allow the freer drainage of the tissue fluids, and quicker resolution of the condition.

But if I the excess milk is expressed, won’t the breasts continue to produce more milk than necessary?

These fears are not justified, as in such a case, after a week or two, production almost always decreases to match the demand of the infant. Also the need of the baby increase, and he becomes more efficient at emptying the breast. At any rate, when congestion due to tissue fluid has decreased, the pressure in the breast decreases and you will feel more comfortable. At this stage, you can safely stop expressing and let your breasts adjust naturally to the infant’s demand. There is less risk of breast abscess at this time so the need to keep on emptying the breast is less.

In any case, the excess milk from high-yielding mothers is extremely valuable, because one can use it for other babies who are in need of extra milk (Breast Milk Banking). Human milk is especially important for premature babies, yet their mothers often find it difficult to express enough for them.

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