nav  bar

Breast Care & Preventing Infections
Sex & Birth
Transition To

Breast Care
Both breastfeeding mothers and bottle-feeding mothers may experience the discomfort of engorgement.

Engorgement is swelling in the breast that is caused by extra fluid and milk. It usually occurs 2 to 6 days after your delivery. Treatment must  be immediate to relieve the discomfort and decrease your chance of getting mastitis (breast infection).
Signs and symptoms of engorgement include:

  • Swelling of the breasts that is very tender and painful
  • Entire breast soreness including your nipples
  • Warm, hard areas in the breast tissue
  • Elevated maternal temperature and/or headache

Treatment/Comfort Methods
Treatment for mothers with engorgement differs depending on the method of feeding you are doing.

Breastfeeding Mothers Comfort Measures

  • Nurse infant frequently, approximately every 1-2 hours during the day and every 3-5 hours at night (do not skip feedings).
  • Ensure the infant is latched-on correctly
  • If after nursing, your breasts still feel full, use a breast pump or manually express milk until fullness feeling is gone.
  • Use warm compresses or take a warm shower
  • After nursing, you may use a cold pack for 5 minutes to help decrease swelling and discomfort.

Bottle-feeding Mothers Comfort Measures

  • No stimulation to the breasts for at least the first 2 weeks
  • Use cold compresses for 15 minutes every 3 hours for relief (do not place cold packs directly on skin)
  • Avoid warm compresses/warm showers
  • Wear a tight, supportive bra with no underwire all of the time for the first week postpartum.

Call your health care provider if:

  • You feel no relief with any of the comfort measures
  • Pain lasts longer than 48 hours
  • Fever of 101 degress or higher
  • You have a hot, red, tender area on your breast
  • Difficulty nursing
  • Chills or flu-like symptoms