Friday, January 11, 2008

Motherhood Tip- Weaning/ Engorgement

How do you stop engorgement? I was asked this question today. First lets talk about engorgement in general.

Engorgement is caused by having too much milk in the breasts. This is obviously very uncomfortable. I mean really, when you are engorged your breasts are at least double or triple their normal size. It's amazing how completely consumed your body becomes when this area is affected. I personally can't even lift my arms up to get dressed when I'm engorged. Engorgement is not only caused by the milk in your breasts, but swelling as well. Ibprofin can help reduce this swelling. Many people will tell you to put cabbage leaves in your bra to help with the pain. I disagree with this remedy. HEAT is what encourages your body to release the milk, so I believe that cooling the breasts contributes to the engorgement. I have a friend who was engorged for a whole week, and went through a lot of heads of cabbage. When she switched to heat and Ibprofin, it went away quickly. Lots of hot showers and baths, and frequent pumping to release some of the pressure is my best advice. Do not completely empty breasts with a pump, that will encourage more milk production, but just expessing a little bit of milk will help relieve the pressure.

So for the new mother who is engorged here is my plan of action- Heat, showers, frequent nursing/pumping, and Ibprofin. You don't want to do anything more than this if you want to continue nursing.

For the weaning mother I have some additional ideas to help engorgement. (Still use all of the above ideas too) When you are weaning, you are not only looking for relief from engorgement, but to stop milk production all together. Here are two things you can do to encourage your body to stop producing milk:

Sage- The herb "Sage" contains a natural estrogen, and therefore will decrease milk supply. Tinctures are the best and can be purchased at a local health food store. For instructions on using Sage to decrease milk click here. This website www.kellymom.com is a great resource for all breastfeeding questions.

Birth Control Pills- The majority of Birth Control pills contain estrogen, and estrogen suppresses milk supply. When I weaned my second baby I dried up in ONE DAY, with the assistance of a Birth Control Pill. It only took one pill for me, and I was dry as a bone. Birth control pills can now be purchased for $9 in their generic form at Walmart pharmacies. (Click here to see the list of their super cheap generic medications)

Benadryl or Sudafed- As an antihistamine, these drugs are designed to dry up bodily secretions. Milk included. Take a few of these, and it should really help you dry up.

My only other advice for weaning is to do it slowly if you can. Start dropping one feeding a week until you are done. Of course everyone is different, and this just isn't possible for everyone.

10 comments:

Jocee Bergeson said...

I wish I would have known about Sage (ironic for me since my daughters name is Sage...) and birth control when I was weaning Sage. I did cabbage leaves and they definitely provided temporary relief but may have made my pain worse overall...it was a rough week!!

Carrie said...

Erica,
This site is great. I love everything you are putting. This is going to be a wonderful resource for people.

Adam & Tiff said...

I love this site! Thanks for all the great info - every time I stop by I learn something new! :) I am not allowing myself to think about loosing the baby weight yet - yuck, but all the tips will come in handy! Great tips on weaning too!

Trisha said...

funny enough, weaning for me was so not a big deal. We went so slowly that we were down to once a day for a few weeks and then just skipped it one day and that was that.
But engorgement when my milk came in was a nightmare. I basically had to surrender that even after all I did it would just take a little time (several looooong DAYS) to ease up. Your tips are great, the shower was my favorite help.

Lisa said...

I'm suffering at this moment from engorgement after a sudden medically induced weaning. Like you said, can't even lift my arms. Google brought me to your post and I thank you. The benadryl and sudafed are wonderful suggestions, I thank you!

NerdyArtist said...

Found this post after a quick google search regarding weaning engorgement.

I found it funny that you wrote this on the day I gave birth to my daughter!

Great advice! I'm off to take a benadryl to help with the weaning/engorgement and help me goet some rest!

thanks for the advice!

Athena said...

omg! Thank you so much for this! I was under the impression I had to just 'tough it out' afte 1 day of touging it out, I wanted to die! I couldn't even hold my baby and all I wanted to do was cry. After reading this a popped 2 benadryls and pumped 1 1/2 ounce from each side! Instant relief!! Thank you so much!!

christa said...

I nursed all but one of my 6 kids and I am weaning number 6 right now. I have NEVER felt engorgement when weaning! I can't believe how much pain I am in right now! Google brought me to your blog, I'm going to try the ibuprofen and benedryl, hopefully it works. But I wanted to thank you for giving me some hope. It's crazy to experience something new when I've done this 4 other times!! Love your blog btw, it will be on my blog list.

NTFI said...

Hi, thanks for sharing this wonderful tips. Like PP google brought me here too. My bbs are engorged from not nursing as frequently. My baby is 8mo and eating 2-3 meals per day. I am in so much pain, am hoping to apply some of your tips.

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