Breast Engorgement - Topic Overview
- Are swollen, firm, and painful. If severely
engorged, they are very swollen, hard, shiny, warm, and slightly lumpy to the
- May have flattened-out nipples. The dark area around the
nipple, called the
areola, may be very hard. This makes it difficult for
your baby to latch on.
- Can cause a slight fever of around
- Can cause slightly swollen and tender
lymph nodes in your armpits.
prevent breast engorgement by closely managing the milk your breasts make and
keeping milk moving out of your breasts. During your body's first week or two
of adjusting to breast-feeding, take care not to let your breasts become
- Breast-feed your baby whenever he or she
shows signs of hunger. If your breasts are hard and overfilled, let out
(express) enough to soften your nipples before putting your baby to the
- Make sure that your baby is latching on and feeding well.
- Empty your breasts with each feeding. This will help your milk
move freely, and your milk supply will stay at the level your baby needs.
If you have any concerns or questions, this is a good
time to work with a
lactation consultant, someone who helps mothers learn
engorgement is diagnosed based on symptoms alone. No exams or tests are needed.
A few days
after your milk comes in, your milk supply should adjust to your baby's needs.
You can expect relief from the first normal engorgement within 12 to 24 hours
(or in 1 to 5 days if you are not breast-feeding). Your symptoms should
disappear within a few days. If not, or if your breasts do not soften after a
feeding, start home treatment right away.
To reduce pain and
swelling, take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), apply ice or cold
compresses, and wear a supportive nursing bra that is not too tight. Before you take any kind of medicine, ask your doctor if it is safe for you to use it while you are breast-feeding.