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Breastfeeding/Breast pain/ redness


I have attempted to nurse my 2 week old. This is my second child and nursing has always been a struggle. He seems only rarely latches well due to a tounge tie, which is painful for me and frustrating for him. I have been pumping and supplementing. (Supplementing due to jaundice) Now I have severe breast pain,  it's red, hard, hot and redness is spreading.  I've continued to pump and tried warm compresses and massage, but it's only getting worse. What do I do now? It's only been 2 days

Dear Stephanie,

I am so sorry to hear of the problems you and your baby have been having. First, for the baby I suggest calling your pediatrician right away. She or he can do something about the tongue-tie.

For you, I'm providing a list of measures from my book that are sometimes helpful for your breast pain.

Good luck, Sally

Engorgement (Hard, Swollen Breasts)

Ways to Relieve Engorgement
The most important and effective way to relieve engorgement is to remove as much milk as possible from your breasts, as frequently as possible, either by nursing your baby often or by using a good breast pump. Some of the following remedies may help.
• Feed your baby frequently, eight to twelve times in a twenty-four-hour period in the first few days after birth, even if you have to wake her to nurse.
• Express or pump a little bit of milk just before feedings to soften your breasts and make the nipple easier for your baby to latch onto.
* The technique of reverse pressure softening (RPS) is sometimes helpful in the first two weeks postpartum using gentle pressure to relieve some of the congestion in the breasts. Ask your lactation specialist to teach you how to do this.
• If your breasts are severely engorged, massage them once or twice a day before feeding, starting gently at the outer edges with your fingertips and going toward the nipple area. A mild cream may make the process easier, but don’t get any on the areola, because that would make it harder for you to express milk. It may help to do the massage in the shower.
• Apply warm, moist compresses about ten or fifteen minutes before a feeding (and before a massage). Between feedings, apply cold compresses. The warm compresses aid the let-down reflex, and the cold packs relieve swelling and pain. Apply cold in an ice pack, a bag of frozen vegetables, or a blue freezer pack wrapped in a thin towel. Apply heat in a moist-heat pad, a small hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, a towel soaked in hot water, or in a hot shower. If you use a heating pad, be very careful not to burn your skin.
 • Wear a firm bra for support. Be sure it’s not too tight, since this can make you more uncomfortable and also cause other problems. If you use breast shields (see below), wear a bra that has enough room to insert the shields. Try taking off your bra while you’re nursing, to be sure it’s not constricting your milk ducts.
• Apply fresh cabbage leaves to your breasts. This simple home remedy seems to help some women. Pull two outer leaves from an ordinary head of cabbage, strip out the large vein in each leaf (or alternately, leave this in and crush the leaf as if you were crumpling paper into a ball). Then cut a hole for your nipple and wash the leaf to get rid of any chemical residue. Chill them for about ten minutes if you want to. Then wrap the leaves around the irritated areas of your breasts. They’re convenient, cheap, not injurious, and disposable, and some women report that they relieve pain. You might try it if you don’t mind staining your bra—and smelling like dinner.
• Wear a silicone breast shield (also known as a milk cup, breast shell, or Woolwich shield) inside your bra for 30 minutes before feedings to soften your areola and bring out your nipple.
• If you cannot breastfeed right after childbirth, express or pump your milk until you’ll be able to nurse your baby. An electric pump is easiest and most efficient (see Chapter 11).
• Take a pain reliever—either one of the over-the-counter agents listed in the box on page tk (Chap. 10), or something your doctor can prescribe that will not affect your baby or your milk.
• If only one breast is engorged because your baby is consistently not suckling from it, this may be a sign of a possibly serious medical problem. To rule this out, see your obstetrician.  


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Sally Wendkos Olds


What do you want to know about breastfeeding? I can tell you what`s good for the baby, what`s good for the mother -- and the father, how it`s related to a woman`s sexuality, how working moms can nurse, how to overcome obstacles, and lots more. As the author of THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING and author or coauthor of 8 other books and more than 200 articles about child and adult development, I can offer sound, sensible advice on breastfeeding, child care and family issues.


I nursed my 3 daughters and am the grandmother of 5 breastfed children. My book THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING (written in consultation with pediatrician Marvin S. Eiger, M.D.) was first published in 1972, and in 1999 came out in an updated 3rd Edition by Workman Publishing & Bantam Books. It is now a classic, with over 2 million copies in print. I am now revising this book for a fourth edition, consulting with pediatrician Laura M. Marks, M.D. This new edition will be published September 2009. I welcome any and all suggestions for the new edition. I coauthored college textbooks A CHILD'S WORLD: INFANCY THROUGH ADOLESCENCE, and HUMAN DEVELOPMENT; both are leading texts in their fields and have been read by 2 million students. I am the coauthor of HELPING YOUR CHILD FIND VALUES TO LIVE BY and RAISING A HYPERACTIVE CHILD, and author of THE WORKING PARENTS' SURVIVAL GUIDE & THE ETERNAL GARDEN: SEASONS OF OUR SEXUALITY. My newest book, A BALCONY IN NEPAL: GLIMPSES OF A HIMALAYAN VILLAGE, published in 2002, tells the story of the way of life in a remote village in Nepal, where all the women breastfeed! My book, SUPER GRANNY: COOL PROJECTS, ACTIVITIES, AND OTHER GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS, will be published March 2009. I speak often to professional, parent and general audiences and make many radio and TV appearances.

Credentials I received my B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where I minored in Psychology, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude.

Other points of interest I have received national awards for my writing, and am a former president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. I am listed in the World Who's Who of Women, International Authors & Writers Who's Who, and Contemporary Authors, and am a member of several professional and civic organizations. I believe: that all parents are working parents; that parents employed outside the home need special support; that mothers' well-being is crucial to their children's welfare; and that the family is the best institution in the world and the one for which we are least prepared. My thrills come when parents or kids tell me they were helped by my writing or speaking or just understanding. To find out more about me, go to

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