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3 Tips to Help Breast Engorgement

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

breast engorgement

You feel them. You see them. You know that engorgement is a problem that needs to be addressed. I mean, who doesn't want to try to prevent engorgement? A mother myself, I understand the struggles of engorgement and want to give you all of the information you need to prevent and treat engorgement in your home with confidence.

Engorgement from breast milk is hard to miss - your breasts may be hard, tender, or swollen. Engorgement can happen as a side effect of medications, due to a drop in hormone levels after birth, or when a newborn isn't feeding well. Here's what you need to know about engorgement and how you can treat it.

When you have to juggle the pain and irritation of engorgement while also caring for your newborn, dealing with the problem can be a little overwhelming. To help out, we’ve put together three ways to relieve breast pain and tenderness.

Expressing Milk To Manage Breast Engorgement

Trying to express milk in between feedings will help relieve pressure, but don't overdo it as this may increase your breast milk production, making the problem worse. If your baby is still nursing, changing their position may help empty the ducts. While breastfeeding, be sure to wear a supportive, but not too tight bra. Massage your breasts to improve circulation and encourage milk flow. You can also try a warm bath or shower to help soothe your engorged breasts.

Using Cold

Using cold packs and cabbage leaves can help reduce breast swelling. Alternatively, a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a washcloth will do the same. Other parents find it helpful to apply raw cabbage leaves to their breasts. Cabbage leaves may contain a substance that reduces swelling, especially when they're cool. Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove any chemicals, and then lay them on the breasts. Repeat this several times a day until the swelling and pain go away.

Pain Relievers

Taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen can ease the discomfort of engorgement. Applying reverse pressure softens the areola, which allows the nipple to protrude deeper and help your baby latch. Once your body gets into a routine, engorgement will be less of a problem.

The engorgement should subside in three to four days. If it persists for longer than this, it could be a sign of something more serious. If it lasts for more than a few days, consult your doctor. A prolonged engorgement can cause infection in your breasts. If the problem is causing severe discomfort, seek medical help right away.


About the author: Kellie Green is a certified and licensed Speech Pathologist, as well as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), who specializes in infant feeding. She operates a private practice in Columbus, OH, Green Living & Wellness.



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