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Erin van Vuuren

Q&A: How Can I Avoid Engorgement?

I'm trying to stop breastfeeding, and my breasts are super-engorged. What can I do?

Weaning should always be done gradually. If your breasts are uncomfortable and engorged it means you're going a little too quickly for your body. Use cold packs to take down some of the swelling, then either pump or nurse your baby to fully drain your breasts. Then try eliminating or stretching the time between feedings a bit more slowly, allowing your body a few days to adjust each time you eliminate a daily feeding or pumping session. Don't simply try to “wait out” the pain. It is extremely important to relieve the pressure you experience by expressing a little milk (with your hands or with a pump) to help you avoid mastitis or a breast infection. You may have heard that pumping stimulates milk production, but rest assured that milk production is only stimulated if the breasts are drained consistently over several days — not by draining little extra milk here and there.