A situation where the breast becomes firm and swollen and the baby finds it difficult to breast feed- Breast Engorgement

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Breast engorgement is a medical condition of which the breast is painful when is  full of milk. It is a situation where the breast becomes firm and swollen and the baby finds it difficult to breast feed. It is caused by build-up of milk, blood and other fluid in the breast tissue.


It takes 2 to 3 days for the engorgement to ease if there is adequate nursing or pumping at least every two to three hours daily. However, the condition may take up to ten days to start to go away if left untreated.

Immediately the engorgement passes, the breasts become softer, with full milk. It gets worse in a non nursing woman before it gets better. This is why you may need to pump your breast to relieve the pressure on your breasts and minimize your risk for breast infections even when you are not breastfeeding. 

Nursing after the experience

Nursing is possible after the experience. Although, an unrelieved engorgement  cause low milk supply, plugged ducts, mastitis, or a serious breast abscess, so it is important to nurse frequently from the very beginning.

It is important to breastfeed the baby in the first hour or two after birth and continues to nurse often from that point on. Watch your baby for signs of hunger, such as sucking his fist and becoming restless. Do not put a newborn on a feeding schedule or wait until the baby is crying in hunger.

Engorgement and the baby

Engorgement makes it harder for a baby to latch on. Consult with a pediatrician if you are concerned the baby is not getting enough milk.


Apply cold packs to your breasts for about ten minutes before or after nursing.

Use crushed ice in a plastic bag or a bag of frozen peas or corn, covered with a thin cloth.

Use supportive nursing bra or wear one at night. 

Use fitted and no underwire bra because underwire can cause constriction and clogged ducts

Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve discomfort or pain

See your doctor if you have flu-like symptoms or a fever that climbs to 101 degrees because it may be an indication of breast infection.


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