How To Relieve Engorgement & Encourage Milk Let-down

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, midwife, nor lactation consultant. This post is not intended as medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience and what worked for me.

When my milk came in, about 3-4 days after giving birth, it freaked me out! I knew engorgement was coming, but I didn’t expect it to be so…dramatic, shall we say.

My breasts were huge and in so much pain. I read my booklet from the hospital on what to expect postpartum, looking for any advice on what to do, but it wasn’t very helpful. I think it may have said to feed my baby, which is good advice, except he wasn’t hungry at the time. I asked my mom, who remembered taking a hot shower and hand expression. I tried both with no luck. I’d get one tiny drop at a time.

I knew it was too soon to pump, but I didn’t know how else to relieve the pain! I was texting all my mom friends and asking for advice as well. But again, what worked for them wasn’t working for me.

Thinking back, I should have probably just called my labor & delivery nurses (who I did call for other questions), but it was Christmas night and I just wasn’t thinking of that option.

Fortunately, the day after it happened we went back to the hospital to meet with a labor and delivery nurse to get a weight for Shepherd. It was a Sunday, which is why we didn’t go to the pediatrician’s office.

The nurse was extremely helpful! She said to microwave a wet washcloth for 10-15 seconds and hold it on my breasts to encourage milk let-down. Then, she had me feed Shepherd for about 10 minutes per side. She said after that I could pump for about 10 minutes. This would be enough time to provide relief, but not so much that it would encourage overproduction.

Both of these tips were a lifesaver! I only had to pump a couple of times before I no longer experienced engorgement. But, I continued to use the washcloth tip throughout my breastfeeding journey, especially whenever I noticed a lump/clogged duct.

Tips to help relieve engorgement & encourage milk let-down:

  1. Feed your baby
  2. Call your labor & delivery nurse(s), midwife, doctor, lactation consultant, etc.
  3. Take a warm/hot shower
  4. Hand express
  5. Use a haakaa to help encourage milk out
  6. Microwave a wet washcloth for 10-15 seconds and place around your breasts
  7. Massage your breasts
  8. Use a breast pump for a short period of time if given permission from your healthcare provider

That’s all I have for how to relieve engorgement! I know that was a short post, but engorgement is also pretty short. If you’re struggling, know that it does not last long and your body will adjust! I wanted to write this, though, because in the moment I frantically reached out to people and googled articles asking the same question.

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