Expert tips on treating & preventing

Breast Engorgement

Engorgement makes the breast feel hard, full, heavy, and possibly warm or tender. Some degree of engorgement is normal when milk "comes in" 2-5 days after birth. It usually goes away over the next few days as you breastfeed, though certain treatment steps can help. If engorgement is accompanied by signs of mastitis (breast redness, fever, flu-like symptoms), call your doctor and see tips on the Clogged Ducts & Mastitis Cheat Sheet.

Before nursing

Gently massage breast from chest wall toward nipple area

Apply a warm compress for 2-3 minutes immediately before nursing to help milk flow, or stand in warm shower with water hitting your back and not directly on breasts; don't use warmth between nursing sessions as it can worsen inflammation and edema

Soften the areola by expressing a small amount of milk from both breasts using your hands or a breast pump (just enough to relieve the pressure; too much pumping will encourage overproduction)

During nursing

Breastfeed more often and don’t skip feedings, even at night

Allow your baby to finish the first breast before switching to the next side, and don’t limit baby’s time at the breast

Ensure a good latch and positioning so that baby can remove milk effectively

Try gentle breast compressions and massage during nursing to help milk flow and reduce engorgement

After nursing

Apply a cold compress to your breasts for up to 20 minutes each hour as needed, with a thin cloth around the cold pack to protect your skin

Ask your doctor or IBCLC about a technique called reverse pressure softening, which can help soften the areolas to help baby latch more effectively

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