Why do my breasts feel painful?
If your breasts feel full (engorged), it can help to feed your baby, massage your breast or express by hand. But try to avoid expressing regularly as it can increase your milk supply and make the problem worse.
A build-up of milk can sometimes cause mastitis. This usually affects one breast and symptoms can come on quickly. These include:
- a red, swollen area on your breast that may feel hot and painful to touch
- a breast lump or area of hardness on your breast
- a burning pain in your breast
- nipple discharge, which may be white or contain streaks of blood
- flu-like symptoms, such as aches, a high temperature (fever), chills and tiredness.
It’s most common to develop mastitis in the first 3 months of breastfeeding, although it can happen at any time. It’s important to see your GP if you have any symptoms because you may need antibiotics. Most women recover quickly, but if mastitis isn’t treated properly you may need hospital treatment. It also can help to:
- stay well hydrated
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen
- avoid tight fitting clothes, including bras
- continue to feed your baby and express any remaining milk after a feed.
Your GP, midwife or health visitor can also help you improve your breastfeeding technique to make sure your baby is well attached during feeds.
One important thing to remember if you have mastitis is to keep breastfeeding your baby as this will help ease the pain. Some women worry about passing the infection onto there baby, but this is not the case and is safe to continue.
Cabbage for engorgement
To accompany Paloma’s messages around breastfeeding, she posted a picture of herself on Instagram with cabbage leaves lining her bra. There have been studies into the use of cabbage leaves in breastfeeding and it has been shown to:
- reduce pain of engorgement
- reduce the hardness of the engorged breasts
- increase how long you can breast feed for.
Placing a chilled cabbage leaf on the breast can offer some relief from engorgement symptoms, but it is always important to speak to a health professional if you have any worries about breastfeeding.