Two to four days after your baby's birth, your milk "comes in," filling your breasts and causing what's known as engorgement. (Until that happens, your nursing baby is drinking a nourishing pre-milk called colostrum.) This important shift has an unfortunate side effect for some new moms: It can create mild to considerable discomfort. Why?
Your body is forcing milk from the glands that create it out to your nipples, and you're also dealing with a postpartum drop in hormone levels and the still-unfamiliar sensation of a newborn's suckling.
Your breasts may feel tender or hard and hot, and they may swell or seem to throb. Don't take this as an indication that breastfeeding isn't for you because it's too painful. Engorgement is a short-lived condition that will diminish as your body adjusts to breastfeeding. Some helpful ways to reduce the pain in the meantime:
· Take a warm shower.
· Apply warm compresses (such as a washcloth soaked in hot water and wrung out) to your breasts before each feeding.
· Express a small bit of milk from each breast before nursing. A full breast can make latching on more difficult, leading your baby to position her mouth in the wrong place. She then has to work harder to get the milk, which can cause you pain.
· Wear a supportive nursing bra. Some women prefer to wear one even at night.
· Nurse every two to three hours. Don't avoid feedings because of the pain – the more you nurse, the better your breasts will feel.
· Drink lots of fluids to keep yourself well hydrated and to maintain milk production.
· Alternate breasts.
· Apply a cool compress after you nurse. Try a baggie of crushed ice or a bag of frozen vegetables.