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
How is breast engorgement diagnosed?
engorgement is diagnosed based on symptoms alone. No exams or tests are needed.
How can you treat breast engorgement?
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 Motrin or Advil), apply ice or cold
compresses, and wear a supportive nursing bra that is not too tight.
To soften your breasts before feedings, apply heat, massage gently, and
use your hands or use a pump to let out (express) a small amount of milk from
If your baby can't feed well or at all (such as
during an illness), be sure to gently pump enough to empty each breast. You can
store or freeze the breast milk for later use.
If your breasts
still feel uncomfortable after nursing, apply cool compresses.
you are not breast-feeding, avoid stimulating the nipples or warming the
breasts. Instead, apply cold packs, use medicine for pain and
inflammation, and wear a supportive bra that fits
Frequently Asked Questions