Close Close
Mother and Baby

Engorged Breasts? Time to Get Some Relief

Full, heavy and uncomfortable? Understand why your breasts are engorged – and how to soothe them

Chances are the word ‘engorged’ has come up in your new-mum vocab at some point. Signs include your breasts feeling full, large and hard, often up to your armpit, as well as perhaps pain and your baby struggling to stay latched on.
‘It often happens in the first few days, whether you’re breastfeeding or not, as your milk comes in,’ says lactation consultant Katherine Fisher.
‘And then later on, it can become an issue for several reasons, including your baby not draining your breast fully or because you’ve missed a feed.’
The reassuring thing? It’s very common – and there are steps you can take to ease it.

Give baby a feed

The best way to drain your breast is feeding, so try this first.

‘If your baby can’t latch on because the breast tissue is too swollen and hard, try expressing 10 or 20ml of milk to soften it and encourage your nipple to come out more,’ says Katherine.

Express, express, express

An alternative is expressing, whether manually or using a pump. Just do as much as your little one will need for a feed.

If your baby can’t latch on because the breast tissue is too swollen and hard, try expressing 10 or 20ml of milk to soften it

‘You don’t need to completely empty your breast,’ says Katherine. ‘One possible cause of engorgement is actually over-expressing, which can increase your milk supply so much that your baby can’t keep up with it.’

Go cold to soothe

When pain stops you doing either of the above, turn to the ice pack. Failing an actual one, a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel. ‘Apply it right around your breast and up to your armpit for eight to 10 minutes,’ says Katherine. ‘It can help your nipple start dripping milk so you can move onto expressing.’

Some women find a warm bath or compress helpful, but at this stage cold tends to work better – plus some paracetamol or ibuprofen (it’s anti-inflammatory).

Massage gently

Massage can increase circulation and ease discomfort – but it doesn’t need to be a hardcore pummelling.

‘Don’t use your fingertips as your breast can bruise easily,’ says Katherine. ‘Instead, use the flat of your hand to push downwards.’ A comb or some oil can help, too.

Give it time

Engorgement can take a few days to settle down, so keep feeding or expressing regularly – and making yourself as comfortable as possible. Also don’t ignore your breasts and those cues it’s time for a feed.

‘Engorgement can develop into mastitis, so if you’re in bad pain, have a temperature or shivers, definitely seek help,’ says Katherine.
What are your tips for easing engorgement? Let us know on the comments board below.

Related content:


No comments have been made yet.

Chinese Gender predictor
Chinese Gender Predictor

Is it a boy or a girl? Tell our tool the month you concieved and how old you are and find out! 

Nappy rash is painful for parents as well as for your baby
Nappy rash is painful for parents as well as for your baby

Read Dr Pixie's guide to learn how to deal with nappy rash

The Magic Sleepsuit
The secret to a quiet night’s sleep – The Magic Sleepsuit

If you’re little one is struggling to settle now they’ve outgrown the swaddling stage, this could be the answer to your sleep-deprived prayers!

Celebrating parenting's small wins
Celebrating parenting's small wins

As mums, we're constantly told to enjoy every moment; in reality, parenting can sometimes be challenging. That's where small wins come in...

Subscribe to Mother&Baby

Be the best mum you can be and let Mother & Baby guide you along the way. Each issue is jam packed with REAL advice from mums just like you. Subscribe today & get a free welcome gift!

Ovulation Calculator
Ovulation calculator
Trying for a baby? Work out when you're most fertile to increase your chances of getting pregnant with our easy-to-use ovulation calculator.
Pregnant woman
Due Date Calculator

When is your baby due? If you’re having trouble remembering dates and counting up the days on your fingers and toes, don’t worry – use our due date calculator.

Get M&B in your inbox!

Sign up to Mother&Baby today and get news and advice about your body and your baby straight to your inbox every week. 

Lemonade Money
It’s time to make sure your loved ones are protected

Every parent knows the importance of planning ahead; from the new school shoes, to your little one’s education, you want to fill their future with hopes and dreams. Yet are you one of the 80% of adults here in the UK that has no life cover?