Are there effective ways to relieve sore breasts during pregnancy and postpartum? Sore breasts and painful nipples are among the earliest signs of pregnancy.
After the ovum is fertilized, your body produces hormones like progesterone, estrogen and prolactin to prepare the body for pregnancy, delivery and lactation. These and other pregnancy hormones are responsible for the pains expectant mothers experience.
What Causes Breast Pain?
Pregnancy hormones stimulate the breasts to grow milk glands for the purpose of lactation. The breasts become swollen and tender because of increased blood supply.
The nipples become very sensitive as they grow to become more conspicuous. Within the breast, there are milk ducts, which develop during pregnancy. These are responsible for producing and storing colostrum (breast milk).
To create space for the growing ducts, and the colostrum, cells within the breast tissue stretch out. This is why the breasts become painful during pregnancy.
After a few weeks, expectant mothers tend to get used to the pain that they stop noticing it, until after delivery.
After delivery, the breasts start manufacturing large volumes of milk, causing your breasts to swell and feel heavy. This is called postpartum Breast Engorgement and it develops about 2 to 5 days after delivery.
It is when your breasts become swollen, firm (rock-hard even) and tender. The pain and swelling coupled with the fact that your baby does not know how to latch and feed properly, nursing might start off as a very painful experience.
Your baby might hurt your nipples leaving sores that make it impossible to nurse. In such cases, mothers opt for formula.
The biggest challenge with formula is the cost. Knowing that you have loads of milk in your breasts but you have to buy formulas because you can’t get the milk out is just disheartening.
However, below are some healthy tips to help you relieve sore breasts during pregnancy and postpartum.
How To Relieve Breast Pain?
Wear A Comfortable Full-Coverage Bra
As your breasts are loaded with milk, they need a little more support than a skimpy bra could give.
A full bra will push your breasts up and supports them up, easing of some of the pressure. Some mothers find sports bras to be very comfortable and supportive.
Switch Baby Positions When Nursing
Try to switch positions (for instance, football position, cradle position) of your baby as you nurse them to ensure they draw milk out of all the milk ducts properly.
Wear Loose-Fitting Outfits
Most mothers wear maternity dresses that are loose and flowing. Any outfit which is loose especially around your chest area will put minimal pressure on your breasts.
Tight tops are not recommended because they will squeeze your now larger and sensitive.
Frequent nursing will take away some milk from your breasts easing off the pressure.
Set a goal to nurse your baby for 8 to 12 times within 24 hours. You can nurse after every 3hrs in the daytime, and 4 hours in the night.
Warm showers encourage blood flow and milk flow because of the heat. The heat also relaxes muscles relieving pressure. It is best to get that warm shower before nursing.
An alternative to warm showers is a warm compress. Dip a washcloth in warm water then ring it out and cover your breasts with it for several minutes.
If warm showers don’t do the trick, you can opt for cold compresses. Anything frozen should work just fine.
You can also use freezable bra inserts. You can use a combination of cold compress and warm compress.
Start with a warm compress before nursing to encourage milk letdown, then use a cold compress after nursing to sooth your breasts and nipples.
Sometimes the baby consumes so little milk, leaving you with full sore breasts. If you own a breast pump, use one to express some milk to ease the pressure after the baby has fed.
You can also use your hands. You only need to reduce the milk burden on your breasts.
You could also massage your breasts as you are nursing. It will encourage milk letdown, and make it easier for baby to feed, reducing pain while nursing.
Massaging also helps to relive pain while expectant. It reduces tension in your breasts.
Avoid Nipple Stimulation
Keep your partner off your breasts and nipples as they may get tempted to play with your full breasts.
Any sort stimulation will exaggerate the pain. Avoid expressing before delivery.
When To A Doctor
Your doctor could prescribe a pain reliever like acetaminophen in case the pain becomes unbearable.
But remember not to use any drugs without consulting your DOCTOR, for the safety of the baby.