Posted on  November 29, 2022

For most new mothers, one of the signs of milk production is breasts become fuller and firmer. And some mothers produce almost more milk than their breasts can hold, which makes them feel rock hard – along with swelling, tightness and uncomfortably full! This condition is known as breast engorgement.

This usually occurs in the early days but for some it may occur as late as 10 days.

Few insights to breast engorgement:

  • This can happen in one or both breasts.
  • The swelling and throbbing may extend as far as your armpit.
  • Symptoms include feel hot and lumpy, nipples are hard and flat, the skin of your breasts are shiny and feeling stretched and may sometimes cause your body temperature to rise.
  • May lead to breastfeeding difficulties which can worsen the current state – flat nipples may create a difficulty for your baby to latch properly.
  • If untreated, breast engorgement may lead to blocked ducts and reduced milk production.
  • May also occur when the mother stops breastfeeding due to a sic baby or mother, introducing solids or starting childcare.

Fret not, here are few (way more than few) tips that have helped mothers minimize breast engorgement:

  • Most effective therapy is having a very hungry baby! Always try to empty your breasts as much as possible to keep the milk flowing. So, feeding on demand or every 2-3 hours will be a relief.
  • Alternate which breast you offer first so that one breast is soft before switching to the other breast.
  • Try breastfeeding in different positions.
  • Massage your breasts gently while feeding which will help to drain the milk effectively.
  • Ensuring your baby has a good latch during breastfeeding sessions is important as well.
  • If you are unable to breastfeed or the baby is struggling with the latch, replace the feeding session with expressions. Pump/hand express your breasts until you feel your breasts are much softer.
  • The infamous ‘reverse pressure softening’ is a technique that helps to move excess fluids from the breast. Reach out to your lactation consultant or midwife to showcase how this is done.
  • Apply a cold compress or a frozen ice pack to your breasts for few minutes after a feed. This will help reduce the swelling and relieve the pain.
  • An old wives tale is to ‘tuck clean cabbage leaves inside your bra’.


Let’s not forget, while some of these tips may work, it may also bring absolutely no results for some mothers.

In a gist, draining the breasts regularly is the best prevention However, having shared the insights and the tips to minimize breast engorgement, what is important to note is that this condition is TEMPORARY! And can be treated easily. Always keep your pediatrician / midwife and lactation consultant informed.

Happy feeding!

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