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This sometimes occurs when your milk comes in several days after the birth, and they'll probably shrink to a more reasonable fullness over the next day or two. Each time your baby nurses, your body gets a better sense of how much milk she needs.
In the meantime, to relieve any discomfort, apply cold cabbage leaves to your breasts; unlike ice, these can be slipped into your nursing bra and will stay cool for several hours. When your breasts are too full for your baby to latch onto, pump them a bit or take a hot shower to stimulate letdown. If your breasts are red, hard, and lumpy (you might also notice pus or blood in your milk, or feel feverish), you may have mastitis, a bacterial infection. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, and you can continue to breastfeed. --Laura Flynn McCarthy
Originally published in Parents magazine, August 2002. Updated 2009.
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.