How to treat engorgement

Are your breasts swollen, hard and painful?

Are they warm on the touch?

Do they appear red or throbbing?

Do you have fever with no other known cause?

If it happens 3-4 days after your baby is born and these symptoms are on both breasts, it is most likely engorgement.

Mastitis occurs in a very similar way to engorgement but unlike the latter, it does not happen on both breasts at the same time and often not 3-4 days after birth.

Another similarity is the onset of fever. It usually appears with mastitis or severe engorgement and the cause is not only the amount of milk but also fluid retention, which can be aggravated if the mom received an IV during labor.

When breast engorgement is promptly treated as suggested below, the worst is likely to pass in 24 hours.

Rest assured that you will get better in a couple of days!

Step by step engorgement treatment

  • You can take ibuprofen to alleviate the pain and the inflammation. This is not interfering with breastfeeding.
  • Aim to breastfeed often every 1½ to 2 hours during the day, and at night every 2–3 hours from the start of one feed to the start of the next. Let your baby finish on the first breast before switching to the second.
  • Make sure that the baby latches on to the breast well. (To know if your baby is drinking well, check these videos out)
  • Just before putting baby to the breast use warm compresses (warm moist cloth/nappy, warm shower, immersion of the breast in warm water) but not for long time. Few minutes are enough. This stimulate the milk flow.
  • During feedings use manual compression on the breast to get the milk flowing.
  • After feeding apply cold compresses or pack (crushed ice in plastic bags or bags of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel) for 15-20 min. This is shooting and interfere with let-down.
  • Apply cold green cabbage leaves (3 or 4 times a day) into the bra. Although not scientifically proven, it appears that the enzymes in cabbage help ease engorgement.
  • After the feeding, express milk.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated.
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