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.

I was 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.

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 our new baby.

The nurse was extremely helpful! She said to microwave a wet washcloth for 10-15 seconds and hold it to encourage milk let-down. Then, she had me feed our baby 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 it on you
  7. Massage
  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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