Breast Engorgement Symptoms

Breast Engorgement Symptoms

Breast engorgement is a common condition experienced by new mothers, which can be quite painful and uncomfortable. This condition occurs when the breasts become overly full of milk, leading to swelling, tenderness, and even fever. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of breast engorgement, the causes, and ways to manage the condition. Our aim is to provide you with the most valuable and detailed content that will help you overcome breast engorgement and achieve a comfortable breastfeeding experience.

What is breast engorgement?

Breast engorgement is a condition in which the breasts become painful, swollen, and tender due to an excess accumulation of milk. This often occurs in the days and weeks following childbirth as a result of increased blood supply and milk production in the breasts. While the increased blood supply helps produce breast milk for the baby, it can also lead to severe engorgement. Although engorged breasts are a temporary problem, they can persist as long as milk production continues.

The most common reasons for breast engorgement are:

Breast engorgement happens when the milk-producing glands in the breast become overfull with milk. This can be due to several reasons, including:

  • Infrequent or inadequate breastfeeding
  • Skipping feedings or delaying breastfeeding
  • A sudden increase in milk production
  • A blocked milk duct or an infection
  • Using nipple shields, which can interfere with milk flow

What are symptoms of breast engorgement?

Breast engorgement symptoms can range from mild to severe and can happen to any mother, whether they are breastfeeding or not. The following are the common symptoms of breast engorgement:

Breast Pain and Swelling

The breasts can become swollen, hard, and painful to the touch. The skin on the breasts may be shiny and stretched. The areola, the area around the nipple, can become flattened and tight, making it difficult for the baby to latch on.

Nipple Pain

Breast engorgement can cause severe nipple pain, making breastfeeding uncomfortable for the mother. This can lead to difficulty in breastfeeding, which can further exacerbate the problem.


In some cases, breast engorgement can cause fever and flu-like symptoms, which can make the mother feel weak and exhausted.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms of breast engorgement may include redness, warmth, and tenderness in the breasts. The mother may also experience a feeling of fullness or tightness in the breasts.

Managing Breast Engorgement

There are several ways to manage breast engorgement, depending on the severity of the condition. The following are some ways to manage breast engorgement:

Frequent and Adequate Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding frequently and adequately can help prevent breast engorgement. It is recommended to breastfeed at least 8-12 times a day, especially in the first few weeks after delivery.

Expressing Milk

Expressing milk can help relieve the pressure on the breasts and reduce the swelling. Mothers can use a breast pump or manually express milk to relieve the pain and discomfort.

Warm Compresses

Applying warm compresses to the breasts before breastfeeding can help stimulate milk flow and ease breast engorgement. It is also recommended to take a warm shower or bath before breastfeeding.

Cold Compresses

Applying cold compresses to the breasts after breastfeeding can help reduce swelling and ease the pain. Mothers can use ice packs or frozen peas wrapped in a towel as a cold compress.


In severe cases, doctors may prescribe pain relief medications or antibiotics to manage breast engorgement.

Prevention of Breast Engorgement

To prevent breast engorgement, mothers should establish a consistent breastfeeding routine as soon as possible after giving birth. It’s also important to ensure that the baby is latching on correctly and effectively breastfeeding. Mothers should avoid missing feedings and empty their breasts regularly.

In addition to regular breastfeeding, using a breast pump after feedings can also help maintain milk supply and prevent engorgement. Mothers should also ensure they are getting enough rest, hydration, and nutrition to support breastfeeding.


Breast engorgement is a common issue among new mothers, but it can be effectively treated and prevented. By establishing a consistent breastfeeding routine and ensuring proper latching, mothers can help prevent engorgement. Additionally, regular breastfeeding and the use of a breast pump can help maintain milk supply and prevent engorgement. It’s important to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or if there are signs of infection. We hope that this comprehensive article has provided valuable information to help you overcome breast engorgement and achieve a comfortable breastfeeding experience.


Can breast engorgement happen to mothers who are not breastfeeding?

Yes, breast engorgement can happen to any mother, whether they are breastfeeding or not.

How long does breast engorgement last?

Breast engorgement typically lasts for 2-3 days, but it can vary depending on the severity of the condition.

Can breast engorgement cause mastitis?

Yes, breast engorgement can lead to mastitis, which is a more severe infection of the breast tissue. It is essential to manage breast engorgement promptly to prevent further complications.

Is it safe to use nipple shields during breastfeeding?

While nipple shields can help mothers with sore or cracked nipples, they can interfere with milk flow, leading to breast engorgement. It is recommended to use nipple shields only under the guidance of a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.

Can breast engorgement affect milk production?

Breast engorgement can actually increase milk production, but it can also lead to decreased milk flow and difficulty in breastfeeding. Managing breast engorgement effectively can help ensure adequate milk supply for the baby.

Should I pump to relieve engorgement?

Yes, pumping can be an effective way to relieve engorgement. When your breasts are engorged, it means that they are overfull with milk, and pumping can help to remove some of the excess milk and relieve the pressure. It’s also important to pump regularly, ideally after each feeding or every 2-3 hours, to help maintain milk supply and prevent further engorgement.

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