Hot Showers and Cold Compresses
Women may find relief in a hot shower, says Fasimpaur. "Sometimes I send a woman into the shower with a good hand pump that's easy to use." Aided by the hand pump, a woman can start the milk flowing out of the breast and soften hard breasts in preparation for feeding. Fasimpaur cautions, however, that heat can increase congestion, so women should use cold compresses after their shower. "Just like you wouldn't use heat to treat a swollen ankle, you don't want to use heat for a swollen breast."
Showers have the added benefit of relaxing a nervous mother and making her ready for nursing.
It may seem obvious, but the simplest way to soothe breast discomfort is by getting your baby to eat and getting milk moving within the breast. "Your baby's tummy is about the size of a walnut," says Gromada. "You should feed your baby as often as your baby seems interested." Fasimpaur adds that a woman should be less concerned about how often or how long a baby eats and be more concerned with reading the baby's cues that he's hungry.
Find the Right Support
You may need to consult with a lactation expert after you've left the hospital if your baby is not latching on properly and you are experiencing breast soreness. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. If she's not able to help, she can refer you to a lactation consultant in your area. Make sure that the consultant you contact is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Nursing should be a pleasure, not a pain. It may take time for you and your baby to get into a comfortable schedule of feedings that relieves your fullness and satisfies her hunger. But if you are experiencing discomfort, talk to your healthcare provider to get the support you need.