Engorged Breasts – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment/Prevention

You are bound to develop large, firm and heavy breasts soon after giving birth. That is very normal. This happens because your breasts and by extension your body prepares to produce milk in large quantities for your baby’s benefit. That preparation is characterized by extra flow of blood and lymph fluids within your breasts. Breast enlargement only lasts for only a few days before stopping. You eventually remain with soft breasts. However, it is possible to develop a different kind breast enlargement, a condition referred to as breast engorgement.


Unlike with normal development of large breasts, engorged breasts appear swollen rather than large. They also appear lumpy and it is possible to experience some level of throbbing pain within the breasts. It is also possible for the swelling to extend to your armpits.


The major cause of engorged breasts in most cases is the inability of a mother to breastfeed her infant frequently or sufficiently enough to empty the breasts, especially during the first few days after giving birth.

Breast engorgement can also occur in case milk ducts get obstructed. This is usually the case where a mother went for breast augmentation or had implants. These reduce available space within the breasts not enough to accommodate increase of lymph and production of milk.

There are also cases of engorged breasts where the cause is a mother’s tendency to wear tight-fitting bras.


Having engorged breasts can be troublesome and risky. Some of the risks include;

  • Your baby’s inability to breastfeed because it becomes impossible for him/her to latch on the areola properly.
  • Engorged breasts minimize amount of milk that flows through hence denying your baby enough breast milk.
  • Increased risk of developing mastitis due to blocked milk ducts with possibility of developing breast infection.
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It is very important to prevent breast engorgement because of the indicated risks. Luckily, there are several ways that you can employ to not only prevent but also treat the same.

  • Make it a point to breastfeed your infant not more than two hours after giving birth.
  • Place a warm cotton cloth on your breasts before every breastfeeding session to encourage flow of milk.
  • Breastfeed your infant frequently so that your breasts remain free of milk.
  • Develop the habit of massaging your breast while your baby draws the milk.
  • Wear nursing bras instead of regular bras to leave your breasts free.
  • Allow your baby to empty one breast completely before switching to the other breast.
  • Pump your breast milk just in case your baby is unable to breastfeed enough to empty the breasts.

These are just a few measures you can take to prevent development of engorgement, measures that can also treat engorgement that has developed. It is important to note that breast engorgement that lasts for more than three days after taking these measures signals a deep underlying problem and you need to consult your physician especially if you happen to develop high fever.

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