When to expect engorged breasts?

  • Around days 3-5 it can be common to feel engorgement, or painful fullness, in your breasts.
    • They can feel swollen and firm to the touch
    • Sometimes causes a flattened nipple making it difficult for baby to latch
  • This is swelling is caused by fluids building up in the breast tissue, not breastmilk
    • But this is a good sign that breastmilk is "coming in" and being produced!

How do you treat this?

  • Most importantly- increase milk removal from the breast, either via breastfeeding, hand expression, or pumping.
    • Have baby latch as often as possible- aim for 10-12 times per day
    • Pumping (on a gentle vacuum/cycle) can also help relieve some pressure and be more comfortable
  • Lie flat and massage breasts toward armpits to improve fluid drainage
  • Apply cool/cold compresses or raw cabbage leaves to the breasts after feeding/pumping for 15 minutes
    • This reduces swelling and should help with the pain
  • Use NSAIDs as needed for pain (Ibuprofen, Motrin, etc)

How can I get baby to latch when engorged?

  • Try reverse pressure softening - place the pads of fingers around your nipple and press back toward the chest for 30 seconds, then rotate your finger position and do the same thing again.
    • This pushes the edema away from the nipple and helps evert the nipple so baby can latch on
    • Check out this video of Reverse Pressure Softening
  • Try a warm shower before feeding baby
    • The warm water helps milk to start flowing and may flow out naturally in the shower and relieve some fullness
  • Use hand expression for a few minutes BEFORE latching baby if it is too painful or difficult due to the swelling