Engorgement (swollen breasts) happens when the milk producing cells are
uncomfortably full. Engorgement is sometimes apparent in the areola or
the breast or both, in one breast or in both breasts. (you may have just
one engorged, sore swollen breast).
When the “Milk Comes In”
Between day 3 and 5, a mother’s milk changes from colostrum into mature milk and her breasts become swollen with breast milk. Engorgement during this time is normal.
Things that can make breast engorgement worse:
• When Mom and Baby are separated from each other. The importance of breastfeeding as early as possible, discussed here.
• Engorgement and swollen, painful breasts are more common in the first few weeks of the breastfeeding relationship.
• Engorgement is usually worse if Mom has been given IV fluids.
• Timing your baby on each breast during a breastfeeding session can cause engorgement. It is recommended to allow your baby to breastfeed until he/she indicates that they have had enough, then offer the other breast. When the baby breastfeeds again, Mom should offer the other breast.
• Mothers with small breasts, may struggle with engorgement more. Ladies with small breasts have a lower storage capacity, which means that they will need to feed more frequently than a larger breasted woman.
• Breasts are swollen and engorged due to a change in Baby’s feeding pattern. This can happen if your baby starts sleeping more.
• Women who have already had children, seem to have more engorgement, but it also disappears quicker.
• Ladies who have had breast surgery (reduction or augmentation) may experience engorgement problems, if the breast milk ducts have been damaged; the breast milk may not have an opening to leave the breast.
Symptoms of Engorgement
• Breasts feel huge
and swollen. The skin of the nipple and areola are stretched tight,
making it difficult for Baby to latch on. This can also cause nipple
• Breasts are hard to the touch.
• Breasts are tender or painful and may be throbbing.