Q: Can I prevent engorgement? How?
A: The best way to prevent engorgement is to nurse your baby as often as possible in the early days. Aim for at least eight to 12 feedings every 24 hours, and let your baby nurse at the breast as long as she will. Offer both breasts at each feeding, and start the next feeding with the breast she takes the least from during the last feeding.
If you experience any pain while nursing, ask for help, as this is a sign that something most likely positioning is not quite right. Feedings don’t have to happen like clockwork, and it is OK to cluster some feedings and have one longer three-to-four-hour interval. The total number of feedings is more important than the spacing. Look for wet diapers and bowel movements that change from the black, tarry meconium to the mustard-colored normal breastfeeding stool. What comes out the diaper end is the best indication that something is going in the other end!
If your baby is sleepy, keep him close by and learn to watch for cues that he is hungry and ready to eat. Babies will cycle in and out of deep sleep every 90 minutes or so and in a light sleep stage will often nurse quite well. Look for Baby’s eyes to move under his eyelids and smacking motions and noises from his mouth. He may suck on his hands as well. When you see these signs, go ahead and offer the breast to him. Don’t wait for him to wake up and scream for his next meal!
By Melissa Clark Vickers
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Moms & Babies Huntingdon, Tenn.