What is engorgement?

It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier, and a little tender when they begin making milk. Sometimes, this fullness may turn into engorgement, which is when your breasts feel hard and painful. You also may have breast swelling, tenderness, warmth, redness, throbbing, and flattening of the nipple.

Engorgement sometimes also causes a low-grade fever and can be confused with a breast infection. Engorgement is the result of the milk building up. It usually happens during the third to fifth day after giving birth. But it can happen at any time, especially if you are not feeding your baby or expressing your milk often.

Engorgement can lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection, so it is important to try to prevent it before this happens. If treated, engorgement should fix itself.

What are the symptoms of Engorgement?
  • Hot/pink breasts
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Flattening of the nipple
  • Breast throbbing

What is the treatment for Engorgement?
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight.
  • Get enough rest, proper nutrition, and fluids.
  • Use cold compresses on your breast to help ease the pain.

If breastfeeding,

  • Breastfeed often after giving birth. As long as your baby is latched on and sucking well, allow your baby to
    nurse for as long as she likes.
  • Work with a lactation consultant to improve your baby’s latch.
  • Breastfeed often on the affected side to remove the milk, keep the milk moving freely, and prevent your breast from becoming overly full.
  • Avoid using pacifiers or bottles to supplement feedings.
  • Hand express or pump a little milk to first soften the breast, areola, and nipple before breastfeeding.
  • Massage the breast.
  • If you plan to return to work, try to pump your milk as often as your baby breastfed at home. Be sure to not let more than four hours pass between pumping sessions.
  • Try reverse pressure softening to make the areola soft around the base of the nipple and help your baby latch. Try one of the six engorgement holds (see source for more details). Press inward toward the chest wall and count slowly to 50. Use steady and firm pressure, but gentle enough to avoid pain. You may need to repeat each time you breastfeed for a few days.

Who can help diagnose/treat Engorgement?
  • Lactation Consultant (LC)

  • https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/your-guide-to-breastfeeding.pdf