Comfort for Mom: Treating Engorged Breasts

October 25, 2011

Engorgement is common among breastfeeding mothers, but there are simple solutions that can help relieve the soreness. If you recognize engorgement early and follow these steps for treating engorged breasts, your discomfort could subside in as little as 24 – 48 hours.

Symptoms:

  • Tender breasts
  • Swelling and hardness
  • Reddened areas
  • Larger, flattened nipples (baby may struggle to latch)

Treatment:

  • Most importantly, continue to breastfeed or pump frequently to relieve “fullness.”
  • Apply warm, wet compresses and gently massage breasts 10 minutes before feeding to help with milk flow.
  • If baby is having trouble latching, express a little milk by hand or by pumping on a low setting, until the areola has softened enough for baby to latch.
  • Cold compresses applied for 15 minutes every hour between feedings can help relieve pain and reduce swelling (Small bags of crushed ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin dish towel work well). Some moms use cool cabbage leaf compresses 3-4 times per day for relief as well.
  • Rest, rest, rest!
  • Call your medical provider if you have a fever higher than 101° F or severe pain. That may be a sign of a breast infection called mastitis.

Prevention:

  • Nurse or pump often. Lactation Consultants recommend breastfeeding at least 8-10 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Establish a proper latch. If a baby latches deeply to the breast, that will help ensure your breasts are releasing milk efficiently.
  • Nurse on or pump each breast until it is “empty” before switching.
  • Express milk from breasts after each feeding if your baby has not completely relieved fullness.

8 thoughts on “Comfort for Mom: Treating Engorged Breasts

  1. Some moms experience this when trying to ween or if they have an over supply. Eating things with true mint oil, or drinking mint tea can help to decrease the supply if that is the case.

  2. pump breast milk says:

    Magnificent site. A lot of helpful info here. I am sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your effort!

  3. I have been nursing my daughter for 3.5 months and have not had real problems with engorged breasts until 2 days ago. I have tried warm/hot compresses, cold compresses, showers, massaging before and during nursing (and pumping). Nothing is relieving the pain and the know that is in my breast. Any other suggestions!

  4. Hi . I’ve been nursing now for a year and were trying to stop . How long would u say it take to completely dry out ? Is there any tips on how to ween my little one?

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