'Reverse pressure softening' to soften overfull breasts before feeding or expressing
This works best when you are lying on your back.
2-handed 1-step method
With fingernails short and fingertips curved, push in with each one touching the side of the nipple. Hold for 1-3 minutes or more until the tissue softens.
2-handed 2-step method
Use 2 or 3 straight fingers on each side, first knuckles touching the nipple. Push in and hold for 1-3 minutes or more. Repeat above and below the nipple.
1-handed 'flower hold'
With fingernails short and fingers curved, push in around the nipple in a circle. Hold for 1-3 minutes or more. A hand mirror may help you see your areola more easily.
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Cotterman, K. J. (2004). Reverse pressure softening: A simple tool to prepare the areola for easier latching during engorgement. Journal of Human Lactation 20(2), 227–237.
Mitchell, K. B., Johnson, H. M., Rodríguez, J. M., Eglash, A., Scherzinger, C., Zakarija-Grkovic, I., Cash, K. W., Berens, P., Miller, B., & Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (2022). Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Clinical Protocol #36: The Mastitis Spectrum, Revised 2022. Breastfeeding Medicine, 17(5), 360–376.
Zakarija-Grkovic, I., & Stewart, F. (2020). Treatments for breast engorgement during lactation. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 9(9), CD006946.