Weaning? Try These 5 Tips to Soothe Engorgement Pain
Think weaning is just a transitional phase for your little one? Think again. Sure, weaning is emotionally painful for baby — saying goodbye to your precious milk is a sad, sad thing! But do you know what's worse than emotional pain? Unbearable, excruciating physical pain.
During the weaning process, you'll notice that your breasts become rock hard and painful. This is because your body is used to a cycle of producing milk, that’s then expelled via baby. The problem is now that you're not nursing, the milk isn't going anywhere – it’s just building up, hence the engorged breasts.
It takes a while for the body to adjust to the changes and stop producing milk altogether. In the meantime, here's how to ease engorgement pain in 5 easy steps (minus any cabbage leaves):
Slow and Steady
Gradually dropping feedings isn't just better for baby, it's great for your boobs too! When your weaning process is slow and steady, your milk supply adjusts over time. In contrast, weaning abruptly won't give your body enough time to ease off the milk production, leaving you with full, aching breasts.
Start by getting rid of one feeding session per day. Usually, it's easier to drop the daytime or afternoon feedings first, because that's when you (and baby!) are busiest. The early morning and nighttime feedings are the trickiest to get rid of, but offering substitutes (like milk in a cup or a little snack) usually does the trick. Continue to do this until you've dropped all the feedings, and have put an end to nursing entirely.
Ice Ice Baby
Placing something icy against your sore breasts isn’t only wonderfully soothing, but also helps reduce swelling.
Most baby books recommend that you wrap an ice pack in a towel and ice your chest for 20 minute intervals . . . I find that method utterly useless. I prefer a more extreme approach of applying the ice pack straight on my chest, keeping it there until it's no longer cold, and then switching to a fresh pack from the freezer. While I may potentially be cutting off circulation in my boobs 'til they fall off, it feels so darn good! If you’re less extreme, cold cabbage leaves are also a godsend.
Remember: COLD. Avoid the heat at all costs. A hot shower may be absolutely soothing on your aching breasts, but it will encourage milk let down, thus producing even more milk and starting the painful cycle all over again.
Keep 'Em Snug
When your boobs are heavy from engorgement, wearing something snug around your chest will help support the weight and ease the pain. Put on your tightest
When your boobs are heavy from engorgement, wearing something snug around your chest will help support the weight and ease the pain. Put on your tightest sport bra, or a stretchy camisole one size down.Avoid uncomfortable underwire bras — you need compression, not lift. And as tempting as it sounds,
Avoid uncomfortable underwire bras — you need compression, not lift. And as tempting as it sounds, do NOT bind your breasts with a bandage, unless you want to end up with mastitis (an infection of the breast tissue).
Pop Those Pills
Pain relievers are a godsend, provided your body reacts well to them. Try acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), which is also anti-inflammatory. Remember to only use meds as directed.
Don't Give In
If you're set on weaning, DON'T NURSE YOUR BABY. Sure, breastfeeding will offer you much-needed relief, but having your little one latched on will signal your body to keep producing milk, and you'll be back to square one. Remember what the wise sensei said in The Karate Kid (or was it Kill Bill? Kung Fu Panda??): Patience, young grasshopper.
No one said weaning was going to be easy (unless you follow rule #1 and do it gradually). The engorgement can last for several days, maybe up to a week. But when you persevere, you'll wake up one morning with deflated boobs and zero pain—hallelujah!
Currently weaning? What are some ways you're alleviating engorgement pain? Share your tips in the comments below!Tags : health baby weaning