Engorgement

Explanation

Breast engorgement is swelling of the breasts. It is a common condition in moms who breastfeed. It usually happens during the first week after delivery when her milk gland tissue begins to function. The swelling can stop the milk from flowing. This can make it hard for the infant to latch. Milk supply can decrease when it is not emptied from the breast. If engorgement goes untreated, the mother is as risk for an infection in her breasts called mastitis.

Symptoms of engorgement include swelling, warmth and tenderness or pain in the breasts.

The recommended treatment for engorgement is to breastfeed every one to three hours or pump every three hours for 15 minutes. If the baby has trouble latching, hand express or pump for two to three minutes before feeding. Over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen decreases swelling and relieves pain. Cold packs placed on the breasts also reduce swelling.

Call the doctor if symptoms worsen to include a hot, red, swollen, tender area in the breast with fever, chills and flu-like symptoms.

Breastfeed often for as long as the baby wants and avoid feeding the baby formula. If the baby isn't feeding at the breast, pump every three hours even at night.

For additional information on this Health Topic, call the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at 513-636-2326.

Last Updated 08/2013