Several days after the birth of your baby, your breasts will fill with milk in anticipation of feeding your child. If you have decided not to breastfeed, you may experience pain and swelling as your breasts become engorged with milk. It is best to wait this period out and allow the milk to dry up naturally, which can take up to two weeks, according to the Disney website iParenting. In the meantime, you can encourage your body to stop producing the milk that you do not need and ease your discomfort.
Wear a supportive bra, even at night if it makes you feel more comfortable. The Baby Center website cautions new moms against binding the breasts, as it may cause clogged ducts leading to mastitis, which is an infection of the breast.
Avoid touching your breasts. Any stimulation can cause a milk let-down, which signals your body to make even more milk. Turn your back to the shower stream, as warm water running on your breasts may stimulate the let-down reflex.
Apply cold packs to your breasts. This will relieve both the swelling and the pain of breast engorgement. Try bags of frozen small vegetables, such as peas or corn, because they will mold to the shape of your breast.
Freeze or refrigerate cabbage leaves, and place a few in each side of your bra. The cold will feel good, and the cabbage may help dry up your milk sooner, according to Baby Center.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, the Mayo Clinic advises. This will relieve the pain and some of the swelling.
Ask your doctor about a prescription medication to dry up your milk sooner. These medications carry the risk of serious side effects, including blood clots, low-blood pressure and stroke, and are not prescribed routinely.
Things You'll Need
Over-the-counter pain medication
If your engorged breasts are very painful and full, you can express a small amount of milk to relieve some of the pressure, says Baby Center. Be aware, however, that this may lengthen the time that you produce milk.
If you notice the signs of mastitis, which include redness, heat, pain, fever and fatigue, call your doctor right away. You may need antibiotics to fight the infection.