This painful overfilling of the breasts with fluid and extra blood supply as well as milk, is so common about the third day after birth that many people think of it as normal. However it is preventable by nursing your baby soon after birth and frequently during the early days. If you are having your first baby you may not know about avoiding it. If you are having a subsequent baby you will realize that letting your baby sleep is not as pressing a need as making sure that breastfeeding gets off to a good start. The temptation to wrap babies up in an already overheated environment I suspect makes them sleepier, so unwrapping may make them more alert to feed. You can make sure that yours is warm enough by holding him in your arms with relatively few clothes on. Your body heat is the ideal temperature and your movements may alert him to feed more. Frequent short feeds are best for the baby and you at this stage.

If you already have engorgement, it is natural to feel upset and rather helpless. You have all this milk but you can’t seem to get the baby to drink: it is really frustrating. You can express some milk to give the baby a chance to grasp the nipple. Hand expression all around the breast may be gentler: the swollen breast is vulnerable to bruising. The homeopathic remedy for bruising, Arnica, is useful at this time as is Calendula for soreness. Baths and showers can help by allowing some milk to leak because of the warmth; try expressing in the bath. Savoy cabbage leaves can also be used to soothe the breast (tucked into the bra) or cold flannels. A bath is also a wonderful opportunity for you to feed your baby in a new, relaxing environment. It works with all sorts of problems, and it is lovely anyway. Babies will often latch on in the bath who are otherwise reluctant and then go on to feed more happily.

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