Once in a while, breastfeeding mums experience breast engorgement. Breast engorgement is the development of hard, swollen, painful breasts from too much breast milk. An increase in the blood flow to the breasts along with a surge in the milk supply may cause the breasts get too heavy and full. The breast engorges especially, when they is no feed. If your baby did not nurse for some hours, the breasts gets full, this can make the breast stiff and painful.

New moms and mums who are trying to wean their child experience more of breast engorgement, for the new mums, this happens because, milk production is still adjusting to meet baby’s need, also, the baby is yet to get a suck from the breast.

Breast engorgement is a natural phenomenon though, in some women, however, the engorged breast can make them develop feverish condition that can be treated with with pain relievers like paracetamol.

Breast engorgement during the first week can be associated with a fever. This condition is sometimes called milk fever. If the symptoms persists, you may see your doctor to check if there is an infection.

Breast Engorgement During Breastfeeding

Breast engorgement is a common breastfeeding problem, and it isn’t limited to the first few weeks. You may also experience engorgement at other times and for other reasons. For example, if you skip a feeding or miss a pumping session, you may begin to feel that heavy, fullness of engorgement. When it does happen, address it as soon as possible to prevent complications. If left untreated, engorgement can lead to potentially serious issues including painful blebs, plugged milk ducts, or mastitis.

Causes of engorged Breast

A normal breast engorgement may be caused if any of the following happens

  • You’re not breastfeeding often enough.
  • You’ve waited too long since the last time you nursed or pumped.
  • You’ve decided to supplement your child with formula between feedings.
  • Your baby’s schedule has changed, baby no longer wake to nurse.
  • You have an overabundant supply of breast milk.
  • You’re breastfeeding a sick baby who’s having trouble nursing because of a stuffy nose, or other illness.
  • Your baby is refusing the breast for no identified reason
  • You’re weaning your baby

Breast Engorgement Symptoms

  • A swollen breast.
  • Tender breast, with some throbbing.
  • Breasts feel hard.
  • Slightly lumpy when touched.
  • Your nipples might be temporarily flattened.
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm pits.

How to get relief from an engorged Breast

The hardness of an engorged breast can be pain, for you to get out of this, try these methods

  1. Whether you are at home, always wear firm bra.
  2. Use ice packs or cabbage leaves to help reduce any swelling and decrease your milk supply.
  3. Remove a small amount of breast milk to relieve any pressure or discomfort that you may feel. But, be careful not to express too much or your body will continue to make more.
  4. Breastfeed your baby frequently. Offer your child the breast very often, at least every 1 to 3 hours throughout the day and night.
  5. Let your child breastfeed for as long as she wants, but at least 20 minutes at each feeding.
  6. Use a hand expression technique or a breast pump to remove a little bit of breast milk before each feeding. It will help relieve some of the tightness, soften your breast, and make it easier for your baby to latch on.

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