After childbirth, many women undergo significant hormonal changes which can lead to increased blood flow in the breasts. This can result in a condition known as breast engorgement.

What is Breast Engorgement?

Between 2 to 5 days postpartum, there's an upsurge in milk production. This leads to:

  • Swollen breasts that are harder, warmer, and more tender.
  • Taut and hard areolas, making the nipple recede and creating difficulties for the baby to latch on for breastfeeding.
  • Potential fever that may last less than a day.
  • Engorgement typically affects both breasts. If the accumulated milk isn't expressed, there could be a temporary halt in milk production.

Causes of Engorgement

  1. Overproduction of milk beyond what your baby consumes.
  2. Infrequent breastfeeding or prolonged gaps between sessions.
  3. Limiting the baby's breastfeeding time or failing to pump when the baby isn't breastfeeding leads to excessive milk retention.
  4. Inefficient milk removal is due to incorrect breastfeeding techniques.

Treatment and Relief

  1. Warm Compress: Before nursing, wrap the breasts with warm washcloths to improve milk flow. This should be done for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Cold Compress: After breastfeeding, use cold compresses for about 10 minutes to alleviate pain and swelling.
  3. Pain Management: If necessary, consider painkillers like paracetamol.
  4. Breast Massage: Massaging gently during breastfeeding can enhance relaxation and promote better milk flow.
  5. Pumping: If the areola becomes too hard for the baby to latch, pump out some milk to soften it.
  6. Frequent Nursing: Aim for every 2-3 hours or as frequently as your baby requires. Do not restrict the breastfeeding duration.
  7. Pump for Relief: If breastfeeding becomes too painful, pause and pump out the milk to relieve engorgement.
  8. Avoid Artificial Nipples: Minimise the use of formula bottles or artificial nipples.
  9. Wear a Supportive Bra: Ensure it's neither too tight nor too loose.
  10. Seek Professional Help: If engorgement continues for over two days, consider consulting our Breastfeeding Support Centre.