Melanie Kissell

Archive for the ‘Milk ducts and sinuses’ Category

Engorgement Can Be Easily Managed

In Breastfeeding, How do breasts make milk, Mammary Glands, Milk ducts and sinuses, Plugged Milk Duct on January 2, 2013 at 3:04 am

breastfeeding mom with baby at breast

Within the first two to three days after you have given birth, you may discover that your breasts begin to feel swollen, tender, and overly full.  Sometimes the swelling will extend all the way under your armpit, and you may possibly run a low grade fever as well.

What Causes This

Within the first 2-5 days of giving birth, an abundance of water-packed milk will come in and become available to your baby.  As this happens, more blood will flow to your breasts and some of the surrounding tissue will swell.  The result is full, swollen, engorged breasts.

Not every postpartum mom experiences true engorgement.  Some women’s breasts become only slightly full, while others find their breasts have become amazingly full and firm.  Some women will barely notice the pain as they go about their daily routine.  And other new moms will be constantly reminded of the discomfort.



Keep in mind, engorgement is a positive sign that you are producing milk to nourish your baby.  Until you produce the right amount:

1. Wear a supportive nursing bra, even at night – making sure it isn’t too tight.

2. Breastfeed often, every 2 – 3 hours if you can.  Try to get the baby to go to both sides at each feeding to soften the breasts.  If your baby seems satisfied with just one breast, you can offer the other at the next feeding.

3. Avoid letting your baby latch on and suck when the areola is very firm.  To reduce the possibility of nipple damage, hand express some milk out first to soften the areola before you get the baby to attach.

4. Avoid pumping milk except when you feel it’s absolutely necessary.  Excessive pumping can lead to the over production of milk and prolonged engorgement. The whole concept of milk production is “stimulation”.

5. To help soothe the pain, apply warm compresses before and in between feedings and cool compresses or ice packs for a short amount of time after you nurse.  Crushed ice in a plastic bag works nicely.

6. Look ahead.  You’ll get past this engorgement in no time and soon be able to enjoy your breastfeeding relationship more and more with your new baby.

Engorgement will pass very quickly as nursing your baby will be the best remedy.  You can expect it to diminish completely in about a week to two weeks. If you aren’t breastfeeding, it will normally get a little worse before it gets better.  Once the engorgement has passed, your breasts will be lighter, softer, you’ll feel like a new woman, and you’ll still have plenty of milk for your baby.

During this time, you can and should continue to nurse.  Unrelieved engorgement can cause a drop in your production of milk, so it’s important to breastfeed right from the start.  Keep an eye for signs of hunger and feed your baby on demand.

Melanie Kissell

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Lactation Explanation

In Breastfeeding, Colostrum, Flat nipples, How do breasts make milk, Inverted nipples, Lactation explanation, Milk ducts and sinuses, Nipple shells, Nipple shield on March 22, 2009 at 7:36 pm


How do breasts make milk?

* Your breasts change during pregnancy to prepare for making milk. Your breasts contain milk glands and milk ducts that increase in number, causing your breasts to get larger.  Milk is made in small sacs called milk glands or mammary glands.  The milk glands are arranged side by side in small grape-like clusters.  The milk gland clusters connect to milk ducts, which are pathways for milk to travel through before reaching your nipples.  These small ducts join other ducts and form bigger ducts as they get closer to the nipple.  Breast milk flows from the ducts into the sinus (collection area) behind the nipple.  It then comes out through 15 to 20 small openings on your nipples.

* During the later part of your pregnancy, your breasts start to make and store colostrum. Colostrum (KO-lah-strum) is a yellow, creamy fluid made by the breasts before they start making milk.  It contains protein, vitamins and minerals, and sugar, plus antibodies (substances that protect against infection).  Your baby will receive colostrum during breastfeeding before your breasts start making milk.  Your breasts will start making regular breast milk 2 to 4 days after your baby’s birth.  Colostrum may continue to be in your milk for up to two weeks after your baby is born.  Your milk glands make milk continuously while you breastfeed and removing more milk increases how much you make.  Milk is removed from your breast during feeding when your baby suckles it or by expression (milk removal by hand expression or pumping).

As a Certified Perinatal Instructor and Lactation Specialist, I promote health & well being and I support and assist breastfeeding moms.