What can be done about pain during weaning? | Weaning – how do I do it best?

What can be done about pain during weaning?

When weaning, the breasts can often be firm and painful. At first, you can try to get relief with simple home remedies. Cold curd compresses or cabbage leaves can be pleasant.

Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can also help (see: Painkillers in pregnancy). Phytolacca decandra” is often used on a homeopathic basis. The so-called kermes berry can have a beneficial effect on inflamed, painful and swollen breasts. However, if the pain gets worse or an inflammation becomes noticeable, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Milk jam problem

Milk congestion is an incomplete, painful emptying of the breast. This can occur at any time during breastfeeding. The most common cause of this is too short or infrequent breastfeeding phases or obstruction of the outflow.

Stress, lack of sleep, a faulty breastfeeding technique or overproduction of milk can also cause congestion. Through tears on the nipple, bacteria can penetrate the mammary glands and easily multiply due to the congestion. Milk congestion should therefore be treated as soon as possible, otherwise it can develop into a painful inflammation of the breast (mastitis puerperalis).

Symptoms of milk congestion are a swollen, painful and sometimes reddened breast. The surface of the skin may shine. The flow of milk can also be disturbed.

The symptoms usually occur on both sides and are accompanied by a rise in temperature. The therapy for milk congestion is to empty the breast as frequently and completely as possible. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol or moist warm compresses on the breast can be helpful before application.

During application, light pressure can be applied to the hardened area to facilitate milk drainage. After draining, the breast tissue can be loosened up a little by light massage. It is also possible to treat the milk congestion with medication. On the one hand, one can reduce the milk production (e.g. with bromocriptine or cabergoline) or on the other hand, one can promote the milk release through the so-called “milk donor reflex” with an oxytocin spray.

Duration of weaning

Weaning should be done gently and can last from weeks to months. The amount of milk and frequency of breastfeeding is slowly reduced and replaced with supplementary food. An abrupt change should be avoided. If sudden weaning should nevertheless be necessary, it is important to empty the breast alternatively, e.g. by pumping with a breastpump, and then reduce it slowly so as not to cause congestion. Sudden weaning can often lead to so-called milk fever, which should disappear within 3 to 4 days.

What hormone changes occur during weaning?

During breastfeeding, the woman’s production of the hormone prolactin is increased. This hormone promotes milk production and simultaneously suppresses the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Therefore, irregular menstrual cycles can also occur during breastfeeding.

If the stimulus to breastfeed is removed, the prolactin level drops again and the sex hormones can be released again unhindered. However, it may take some time for the hormone balance to return to normal. A woman’s cycle is the result of a combination of different sex hormones.

The oestrogen level rises in the first half of the cycle and builds up the lining of the uterus. In addition, a short-term strong increase in oestrogen causes ovulation. After ovulation, the hormone progesterone increases to allow a fertilised egg to implant.

If this does not happen, the hormone levels fall again and the lining of the uterus is shed. This leads to menstruation. During breastfeeding, the baby’s sucking on the breast causes the hormones prolactin and oxytocin to be released.

These in turn inhibit the release of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. For this reason, a regular cycle during breastfeeding is usually not present. Ovulation and pregnancy should therefore also not occur during breastfeeding.

However, this mechanism varies from woman to woman, which is why breastfeeding is not a safe method of contraception. After weaning, it takes some time for the hormonal cycle to return to normal.