The Basics of Breast Engorgement

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Breast engorgement is the term used to describe the swelling in your breasts that most often occurs when milk starts increasing in volume around 3-5 days postpartum. The pain associated with breast engorgement can range from mild to extreme, but there is no need to be alarmed, as this is a relatively common symptom many women experience after having a newborn. Other signs of breast engorgement include redness, flat areolas and firmness in the breast. In order to prevent engorgement during your breastfeeding journey, here’s what you need to know.

Causes of Engorgement

The most common causes of engorgement are infrequent and/or delayed feedings. When the breasts become overfull, swelling and hardness occur; this is engorgement. Another common cause of engorgement is improper latch. When a baby is not latched on correctly, milk cannot be effectively removed, causing fullness, discomfort and a backup of milk. During your hospital visit, a lactation consultant should evaluate your baby’s latch. Sometimes just a few adjustments can make all the difference in getting milk efficiently transferred to the baby.