Post-partum engorgement feels like 2 over-inflated balloons pinned to your chest.
Many women have no idea the first time they are unfortunate enough to experience post-partum engorgement.
Many women just like me.
I had given birth 2 days before.
I was struggling to latch him, he was very tired and had a tiny mouth.
Then nearly 3 days in, on my way home from the midwives clinic where I had my baby, breast pressure built.
I got home and explained it to my mum. Showed her how swollen I was. It felt like it was my entire chest blown up like a balloon.
Her response, "darling hop in the shower and hand express some milk away."
This is post-partum engorgement.
I was a bit worried about losing the milk, but she assured me I would make some more.
Thankfully this worked and I felt some pressure relief.
As it turned out, I became a milk machine. I mean these boobs of mine were producing way too much milk for this baby which for mums out there feeling like their supply could be better, too much milk is another issue for us mum’s at the other end of the spectrum.
I felt constantly engorged, hard breast tissue on the outer parts and learning all about babies, breast, milk and all the rest. Post-partum engorgement is no picnic.
My new breast SIZE made it so hard for my baby to latch. Some of you will know, that trying to latch a baby on engorged breasts is near impossible. Added to this, my baby's mouth was teeny tiny.
If only I knew then what I know now about post-partum engorgement. It's all about the fluids. So much fluid and I don't just mean milk. It could have been much easier if I'd known HOW to massage the tissues, what the underlying issue is when your milk first "comes-in", and ways to gently work on it.
Is post-partum engorgement common?
Post-partum engorgement affects a huge proportion of women and is most common with the first baby. Studies show that with subsequent breastfeeding of children, it's usually less intense.
I am glad to report that this was my experience with my second baby. In fact the whole breastfeeding experience was amazingly different. I produced enough milk for this baby but I never really felt engorged and didn't suffer the mastitis that I had with my first.
So don't think it is always going to be like this.
The same message we always have is to seek help early. That can be an experienced lactation consultant or your GP, midwife, maternal health carer.
However, many health care professionals don't have the manual therapy & massage skills we have. Which is why we produced an online course all about how to become your own breast treatment pro and work on this engorged balloon feeling.
You are NOT imagining it!
Information is key.
Education is empowering!
Author: Katie Willy
Osteopath & Your Two Jugs Co-Founder
Elise Fuller & Katie Willy
Osteopaths & Your Two Jugs Co-Founders
Elise & Katie are Melbourne based osteopaths who have been actively treating breastfeeding women in clinic since 2015. During 2020 lockdown they launched their company Your Two Jugs to educate more women about how to treat their own breastfeeding conditions. Their online video based course, Boobology, is available now with heaps of education and hands on techniques to teach women the do’s & don’ts for mastitis, blocked ducts & engorgement. More recently, Your Two Jugs launched a full health care practitioner course, called The Boob Hero, to educate manual therapists on their contribution to supporting breastfeeding women with hands on care. Empowerment all starts with education, and the more support available for women, the better.