Breast Engorgement: Triggers & How To Get Rid Of It

Engorgement can also occur if your infant skips a meal or your breastfeeding schedule changes.

Sambhav Kumar
Written by: Sambhav KumarUpdated at: Dec 10, 2022 16:51 IST
Breast Engorgement: Triggers & How To Get Rid Of It

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Women in their postnatal period typically notice an increase in size, weight, and some tenderness in their breasts. Between the second and fifth day after delivery, breasts start producing more milk, resulting in breast fullness. 

However, they are probably engorged if your breasts feel hard, bloated, throbbing, lumpy, uncomfortable, full, or painful. Your armpit may become completely swollen, and you could even develop a low-grade fever.

Breast Engorgement: What Triggers It?

In the first few days after giving birth, if you do not feed frequently or sufficiently drain your breasts, the risk of breast engorgement increases. Milk ducts are compressed when your body produces a lot of milk that is not eliminated. This makes it challenging for the milk to pass via milk ducts.

The milk is transported to your nipple by milk ducts from the glands (small sacs) where it is produced. Engorgement can also occur if your infant skips a meal or your breastfeeding schedule changes.

Also read: How Breast Cancer Screening Methods Have Evolved Over The Years

How Does Breastfeeding Suffer from Breast Engorgement?

If you don't get rid of the extra breast milk, your milk production will decline. It is possible that your kid won't be able to latch onto your breast properly, which could harm your nipples. If the milk is not evacuated, engorgement can potentially result in mastitis (breast infection).

The Best Ways To Avoid Breast Engorgement

Some women may just feel their breasts to be mildly full, others may feel they are very large and firm. The problem could have been avoided. What you could do is:

  • Within two hours of birth, breastfeed your baby. If that is okay, ask your doctor.
  • After the first 24 hours, feed the baby frequently—eight to twelve times each day, on average. 
  • Do not introduce a bottle or pacifier during the first month if there is no medical justification. Your baby may struggle to breastfeed once they have mastered using a bottle or pacifier since the muscles needed to suck on them are different from those used to breastfeed.
  • If feeding is skipped or your baby doesn't nurse well, hand express or use a breast pump to get the milk out.


  • Put a warm compress on your breasts for a few minutes before nursing. This will help to regulate the milk flow. However, don't keep the heat on for longer than three minutes. Another option is to take a warm shower. Use cool compresses instead if you are so engorged that milk won't come out of you.
  • Between feedings, nurse within two to three hours. You can express a small amount of milk if your breasts are already full and your baby isn't nursing. You could have pain or discomfort when expressing milk if your milk ducts are too full. Continue trying because after the milk is released, your breasts will become sensitive.
  • Apply cold packs to your breasts for about 10 minutes before or after nursing to help reduce pain and swelling. You can use frozen peas or corn in a bag that has been covered with a thin towel or crushed ice in a plastic bag.


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