During breastfeeding, it is normal for the breasts to get larger, heavier, and a little painful to touch. However, sometimes, this fullness may turn into engorgement.

What is breast engorgement?

In breast engorgement, your breasts feel hard and painful. You may also notice breast swelling, pain to touch, warmth, redness, throbbing pain, and flattening of the nipple. Sometimes, engorgement is associated with a low-grade fever and can be confused with a breast infection. Engorgement results from the milk building up. It usually happens between the third and fifth day after the delivery. But it can happen at any time, particularly if you are not feeding your baby or expressing your milk frequently. It can cause plugged ducts or a breast infection; therefore, it is important to try to prevent it before this happens.

What you can do to prevent breast engorgement?

  • Breastfeed often after the delivery. As long as your baby is latched on and sucking well, let your baby nurse for as long as he/ she likes.
  • Take the help of a lactation consultant to improve your baby’s latch.
  • Breastfeed often from the affected side for removing the milk, keeping the milk moving freely, and preventing breast from becoming overly full.
  • Don’t use pacifiers or bottles to supplement feedings.
  • You can hand express or pump a little milk to first soften the breast, areola, and nipple before breastfeeding.
  • Massage the breast.
  • You can use cold compresses on your breast in between feedings that help in easing the pain.
  • If you plan to get back to work, try to pump your milk as often as your baby breastfed at home. Be sure that you are not taking more than four hours between pumping sessions.
  • Take enough rest, proper nutrition, and fluids.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight.


Your guide to breastfeeding[Internet]. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/your-guide-to-breastfeeding.pdf. Accessed on Aug 12, 2020.