All About Engorgement

Causes and solutions to this breastfeeding problem.
How to Avoid Breast Engorgement
How to Avoid Breast Engorgement

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do my breasts hurt so much?

During the days that your milk comes in (usually starting three or four days after the birth), it's as if your body is throwing a dinner party for baby, and just to be sure she doesn't go hungry, is making enough for three! All that extra milk filling your breasts makes them feel full, even rock-hard. It's normal and fortunately, temporary.

This makes me scared to breastfeed!

Avoiding breastfeeding is the worst thing you can do. Nursing drains milk from your breasts, giving them relief. It also signals to your body exactly how much milk your baby actually needs, so your body adjusts the supply accordingly. If you skip feedings because you're afraid it will hurt, in the short term your breasts will just well up more, and in the long term you could hurt your milk production.

How can I find relief?

By nursing more! Or, if your baby can't help you out enough, pump your breasts until they feel better. You can also use a cool compress, which reduces swelling, or take a warm shower, which can trigger letdown and let you wash away some extra milk.

How long will this last?

Typically engorgement only lasts a week or so, so hang in there. By about six weeks, your breasts may no longer even feel full when it's time for a nursing session. Don't worry -- the kind of fullness you feel in the beginning doesn't last, and your body is still making plenty of milk even if it doesn't feel that way.

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