How to Get Rid of Engorged Breasts Not Breastfeeding
Have you recently stopped breastfeeding your baby but your body is still producing milk?
Do you feel a constant pain in your breasts, and are they hard to the touch?
Does touching your breasts make the situation worse? Do you find it difficult to get rid of the excess milk?
If you are going through any of the above issues, even while you are not breastfeeding anymore, it is a case of breast engorgement.
Breast engorgement is a problem that a lot of new mothers face, especially when they stop breastfeeding. In our article here, we will tell you about five safe ways that can help you get rid of engorged breasts after you have already stopped breastfeeding your little one. We will also tell you how long it usually takes for the breast engorgement to reduce and go away, so that if required, you know when to visit a doctor.
What are engorged breasts? What causes breasts to get engorged?
Breast engorgement is a situation where your breasts are so full of milk that they tend to hurt. In some cases, the breasts can be so overfull with milk that the pain is significantly strong, and may interfere with your daily routine and wellbeing.
In most of the cases, your breasts are likely to get engorged when your body produces more milk than your baby actually needs. This means that, even after your baby has had a full session of breastfeeding, there is still a good amount of milk left in your breasts. However, by the time your baby gets hungry again, your breasts will produce more milk in addition to the milk that was already left over from the last time.
This constant production of milk leads to an accumulation of milk in your breasts, which makes them painfully engorged.
Also, your breasts can become swollen and feel very hard to the touch. This makes it more difficult for your baby to feed properly. This is yet another reason why your baby may not be able to feed well, and milk again gets left over in the breasts.
If you suddenly stop breastfeeding your baby, or if your baby suddenly stops breastfeeding for any reason, it can lead to a build-up of milk in the breasts and lead to breast engorgement. This is because, even though you stop feeding, your body has not naturally stopped producing milk, and hence the production and accumulation, leading to engorged breasts.
5 ways to get rid of engorged breasts when not breastfeeding
Since you are not breastfeeding any more, your body will find it difficult to suddenly get rid of all the excess milk it is producing and that is getting accumulated in your breasts. If you want to know about how to get rid of engorged breasts not breastfeeding, here are five ways that will help to reduce the pain and discomfort of breast engorgement.
1. Express the milk:
When you express the breast milk, it will help to immediately relieve the pressure and discomfort that you feel in your breasts. However, make sure that you pump out only a small amount at a time. This will tell your body that it no longer needs to produce a large supply of milk.
Your body produces milk on a demand basis, which means that the more your baby feeds, the more milk you produce. However, once you stop breastfeeding, your body has to understand the change in the demand. As your body gets used to the smaller amount of milk being pumped out, and at longer intervals, it will accommodate its production of milk accordingly. Gradually, your body will start producing less amounts of milk and at longer intervals.
2. Apply cold compress to ease discomfort:
Using a cold compress will help you to reduce the pain and discomfort in your breasts to a large extent. It will also help to bring down the swelling in your breasts, which will make it easier for you to express milk, which again will help in reducing engorgement. To get the best result out of a cold compress, make sure to place it on both your breasts for at least 15 to 20 minutes each. Initially, do this at least once every hour and once the swelling and pain in your breasts reduces, you can increase the time in between.
You can use various things as a cold compress. The easiest thing to use as a cold compress that you can often find in your fridge is a bag of frozen vegetables. You can also use a cold gel or ice pack or a frozen towel. Exposing your skin to too much cold can also cause damage to the skin, so place a thin cloth on your breasts and then place the cold compress on top.
3. Ask your doctor for medication:
Since you have already stopped breastfeeding, it is now safe for you to take medications that can help reduce the swelling and pain in your breasts. Your doctor will be the best person to guide you on what medications you can take to ease the discomfort and prevent plugged ducts and infection in your breasts.
Certain medicines such as ibuprofen (which can most commonly be in the form of Motrin or Anvil) are usually considered safe to be taken to reduce the pain and swelling. However, it is best to consult with your doctor and also read the instructions on the medicine package carefully before you take anything.
4. Wear a bra that fits you well
Breastfeeding can alter the shape of your breasts and make them full and sagging. This means that your bra often stretches out a lot and loses its original shape and the ability to give you the right support.Not wearing the right type of bra can actually worsen the pain in your engorged breasts, because you will not have the right support, and as your breasts sag, it will increase the pull and the pain.
Go for a bra that fits you well. This means that, you should be comfortable wearing it, and there should be no band marks on your shoulders or bust area. If required, consult a sales staff who can help you with the right fit and measurement. Also, if you want to know how to reduce breast size after breastfeeding, wearing the right size bra can help.
5. Use cold cabbage leaves
A very easy and effective home remedy you can try to reduce breast engorgement is to use cold cabbage leaves.
All you need to do is, place a cabbage in the fridge. If you want to make it extra cool, peel out the leaves and keep them in the freezer. Place on your breasts for about 15 to 20 minutes to ease the pain and discomfort.
How long should it take for engorgement to go away after you stop breastfeeding?
In order for the breast engorgement to completely go away, your body first has to stop producing milk. This means that your milk supply has to dry up. On an average, it could take about 10 to 14 days for your body to completely stop producing milk, once you stop breastfeeding. In some women however, this may take a little longer.
While there is no exact number on how much time it will take for the breast engorgement to go away, trying out the tips mentioned above will help in reducing the milk production, and ease the engorgement to a large extent.