There are a number of reasons why you may experience breast pain while you're breastfeeding.
"Usually the reason can be resolved fairly quickly if you get the right help," says Bridget Halnan, infant feeding lead in Cambridgeshire and Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting.
"Never put off asking for help early. Persevering on your own, hoping it will get better, may make matters worse."
Here's how to deal with some of the most common reasons for breast pain while breastfeeding.
Breast engorgement is when, for whatever reason, your breasts become overly full. They may feel hard, tight and painful.
"In the early days, engorgement can be due to your milk coming in and your newborn not feeding as much as perhaps they need to," says Bridget Halnan.
Newborns need feeding little and often. It can take a few days for your milk supply to match your baby's needs.
If your baby isn't well attached to the breast, it may be hard for them to take your milk when your breast is engorged.
The nipple can become a little overstretched and flattened, and possibly painful.
Ask your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist for advice immediately to help your baby relieve the engorgement and prevent it happening again.
Find out more about positioning and attachment
Engorgement can still happen once you have learnt the skill of positioning and attachment, usually when your baby hasn't fed for a while.
Your baby usually knows when they need a feed, for how long and from which breast.
Early signs (cues) that your baby is ready to feed can include:
moving their eyes rapidly
putting their fingers into their mouth
rooting (turning to 1 side with their mouth open as if seeking the breast)
Crying is the very last sign that your baby needs feeding. Feeding them before they cry often leads to a much calmer feed.
Keeping your baby close so you can watch and learn their early feeding cues will help.
How to ease breast engorgement
To ease the discomfort of engorgement, apart from your baby feeding, you could try expressing a little breast milk by hand.
"You don't need to strip the breast of as much milk as you can. This will only lead you to produce more," says Bridget Halnan. "But taking a little off can relieve the pressure."
Ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist to show you how.
Find out more about expressing breast milk
You may also find it helps to:
wear a well-fitting breastfeeding bra that doesn't restrict your breasts
put warm flannels on your breasts just before hand expressing if they're leaking
apply chilled cabbage leaves to your breasts after feeding or expressing to reduce the pain and swelling (the evidence on the benefits of this method is weak, but it may work for some women)
take some paracetamol or ibuprofen at the recommended dose to ease the pain (these are safe to take while you're breastfeeding)
Too much breast milk
Occasionally women make too much breast milk and their babies struggle to cope.
It's best to get your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist to watch a feed to see if they can spot why this is happening.
They can also suggest ways to decrease your supply.
"They may be able to help you pick up your baby's cues about how long they want to stay at 1 breast," says Bridget Halnan.
"Remember, it is your baby at the breast that makes the milk. Switching them too early can cause an oversupply."
Blocked breast milk ducts
The milk-making glands in your breasts are divided up into segments, rather like an orange.
Narrow tubes called ducts carry the milk from each segment to your nipple.
If one of the segments isn't drained properly during a feed (perhaps because your baby isn't attached properly), this can lead to a blocked duct.
You may feel a small, tender lump in your breast.
"This needs relieving as soon as possible, and your baby may be able to help," says Halnan.
"If possible, place them with their chin pointing towards the lump so they can feed from that part of the breast. "
Avoid wearing tight clothes or bras so your milk can flow freely from every part of your breast.
Other things that may help include:
frequent feeding from the affected breast
warm flannels or a warm shower to encourage the flow
gently massaging the lump towards your nipple while your baby feeds
It's important to deal with a blocked duct quickly as, if left, it could lead to mastitis.
Mastitis (inflammation in the breast) happens when a blocked duct isn't relieved.
It makes the breast feel painful and inflamed, and can make you feel very unwell with flu-like symptoms.
If you don't deal with the early signs of mastitis, it can turn into an infection and you'll need to take antibiotics.
If you have mastitis, you'll probably have at least 2 of these symptoms:
a breast that feels hot and tender
a red patch of skin that's painful to touch
a general feeling of illness, as if you have flu
feeling achy, tired and tearful
a high temperature (fever)
"This can happen suddenly, and can get worse quickly," says Bridget Halnan. "It's important to carry on breastfeeding as this will help to speed your recovery."
If you think you're developing a blocked duct or mastitis, try the following:
Check your baby's positioning and attachment. Ask your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist to watch a feed.
Carry on breastfeeding.
Let your baby feed on the tender breast first.
If the affected breast still feels full after a feed, or your baby can't feed for some reason, express your milk by hand.
Warmth can help the milk flow, so a warm flannel, or a warm bath or shower, can help.
Get as much rest as you can. Go to bed if you can.
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the pain.
If you're no better within 12 to 24 hours or you feel worse, contact your GP or out-of-hours service.
You may need antibiotics, which will be fine to take while breastfeeding.
Stopping breastfeeding will make your symptoms worse, and may lead to a breast abscess.
If a mastitis infection isn't treated, it can lead to a breast abscess, which may need an operation to drain it.
This can also develop if the mastitis doesn't respond to frequent feeding plus a course of antibiotics.
You can carry on breastfeeding after an abscess has been drained.
Find out more about breast abscesses
If you experience pain in both breasts, often after a period of pain-free breastfeeding, and the pain lasts for up to an hour after a feed, you may have developed thrush.
Find out more about thrush and breastfeeding
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Breastfeeding FAQs: Pain and Discomfort (for Parents)
Breastfeeding is natural, but it takes practice to get it right. Here's how to handle pain and discomfort during nursing.
Is It Normal to Have Cramps While Breastfeeding?
Yes. During the first few days to weeks after delivery, you may feel strong, menstrual-like cramps in your uterus when your milk “lets down” (starts to flow). This is your uterus shrinking back to a smaller size.
Is It Normal for My Breasts to Get Engorged?
During the first 2–5 days after birth, it’s normal to have engorged (very full) breasts as your milk supply increases. But if your baby nurses (or you pump) every 2–3 hours, your breasts should not feel engorged.
Engorgement can lead to sore, painful breasts or a breast infection. So it’s best to try to avoid it. The longer you wait to breastfeed or pump, the more uncomfortable and engorged your breasts may get.
If you can't feed your baby right away, use warm compresses and try to pump or manually express your milk. One way to express milk is to put your thumb on top of your areola and a finger below it. Gently but firmly press your thumb and fingers back against your chest wall. Then compress your fingers together to express (push out) your milk.
Is It Normal to Feel Pain During or After Breastfeeding?
When babies latch on properly, some moms feel a few moments of discomfort at the very beginning of a nursing session. After that, discomfort should ease. You may feel a gentle tug on your breasts while your baby feeds, but it shouldn’t hurt.
If you feel discomfort during nursing, stop nursing and reposition your baby to get a better latch. Your nipple areola (the ring around the nipple) should be mostly in your baby’s mouth. When babies are latched on wrong, it can hurt or feel like a pinch each time your baby sucks. Over time, this can lead to painful, sore, cracked nipples.
If you have pain during breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant to make sure your baby is properly latched or that something else isn't going on.
What Else Can Cause Breast Pain?
The most common causes of breast pain include:
A plugged milk duct. Sometimes milk ducts get plugged. You may feel pain in an area of your breast or a lump may form under the skin where the duct is plugged. To help unclog the duct and ease pain:
Take warm showers or use warm compresses on the area. Massage the area several times a day. Then, breastfeed your baby right away.
Position your baby’s chin so that it points toward the clogged area during feeding. This will help that area of the breast empty sooner.
Gently massage the lump while your baby feeds. It may take 2 to 3 feedings for the lump to go away. You also can use a manual (hand) or electric pump for a few minutes to help draw out the clogged milk while gently massaging the area.
Apply cold compresses (ice wrapped in a thin towel) between feedings.
If the lump doesn't go away within a couple of days, or if you have a fever, chills, aches, or red streaking, call your doctor.
Mastitis. This is an inflammation of the breast. If your breasts are sore; have red streaks; or have a hard, red area, you may have mastitis. Some women also get a fever and chills. If you think you have mastitis, call your doctor. In the meantime, continue to breastfeed or pump to drain the milk from your breasts. Switch between warm compresses and gentle massage right before breastfeeding and then apply cold compresses after a session. Mastitis caused by an infection may need treatment with antibiotics.
Oral thrush. Sometimes babies develop a yeast infection in the mouth called oral thrush. Babies with this have cracked skin in the corners of the mouth, and whitish or yellowish patches on the lips, tongue, or inside the cheeks. The infection can spread to your breast and cause:
shooting or burning breast pain either during or after feedings
pain deep within your breast
strong pain in the breasts or nipples that doesn't get better after your baby properly latches on or you reposition your baby
nipples that are cracked, itchy, burning, or are pink, red, shiny, flaky, or have a rash with little blisters
Call your doctor if you or your baby have any of these symptoms.
Inverted or flat nipples. Women who have inverted nipples (nipples that turn in rather than stick out) or flat nipples (that don't become as erect as they should when a baby is nursing) may have a harder time breastfeeding or have nipple pain. If either is the case, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant about ways to make nursing easier and reduce any pain.
How Can I Ease Breast or Nipple Pain?
Nurse first on the side that's less sore and vary breastfeeding positions.
Make sure your baby latches onto your breasts correctly. If breastfeeding is too painful, it may be more comfortable to drain your breasts by pumping the milk.
If you have sore nipples, ask a lactation consultant or your health care provider if a nipple shield is a good idea. Nipple shields go over the areola and nipple during a feeding to protect sore or cracked nipples. They should only be used when recommended by your care team as they can sometimes affect milk supply.
Gently break the suction when removing your baby from your breast. Slip your finger in the side of your baby's mouth, between the gums, and then turn your finger a quarter turn to do so.
At the end of a feeding, massage some breast milk onto your nipples, and then let them air dry.
Gently massage the sore area before nursing.
Use wet or dry heat on your breasts (a warm shower, water bottle, heating pad, or warm washcloth) right before feeding. But if you have a yeast infection in your breast, you'll need to keep your nipples dry because yeast thrives on moisture. Get plenty of rest and fluids.
Put ice packs or cool compresses on engorged breasts after feedings.
Make the area where you feed your baby comfortable. Sit in a glider or a cozy chair with armrests. Footstools and pillows can give extra support. Some women like wraparound nursing pillows or "husband" back pillows with arms on each side for nursing in bed.
If breastfeeding is painful or uncomfortable for you, callyour doctor or lactation consultant for help.
Solving nine breastfeeding problems in the first month
Expert advice on solving major breastfeeding problems in the first month.
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Cathy Garbin, child health nurse, midwife and lactation consultant: Cathy, a mother of two, was a research fellow at the renowned Human Lactation Research Institute, founded by Peter Hartmann, for seven years, providing support to breastfeeding mothers in clinics and at home. Today, she still works as a family counselor, and also conducts seminars for attending physicians and speaks at international conferences.
Breastfeeding is as much a skill as driving a car, and in the first month mother and baby may encounter some obstacles along the way. It takes time and experience to make it familiar to both of you. Solving breastfeeding problems in the first month helps to establish good milk production and increase the duration of breastfeeding in the future. Below you will find tips on how to overcome the main breastfeeding problems that mothers often face from the end of the first week to the end of the first month after giving birth.
Problem #1. A painful lump appeared in the breast
Lumps and lumps in the breast of a nursing woman can appear for various reasons. One of the most common is blockage of the milk ducts, which results in a hard and painful lump that can become inflamed.
Massage the inflamed area, especially while breastfeeding or expressing, to clear the blockage.
Gently apply warm flannel to your breasts or take a warm shower before feeding to relieve discomfort.
Continue breastfeeding as usual to avoid milk accumulation that can cause mastitis.
Try to express milk from the inflamed breast after feeding to ensure that it is completely emptied. This will help to remove the blockage and restore the patency of the duct. See what breast pumps* Medela has to offer and choose the right one for you.
Try ultrasound therapy. If you have repeated blocked ducts, your lactation consultant or healthcare professional may suggest this procedure to help restore milk flow. The procedure is performed by a physiotherapist.
Call your healthcare provider, if you notice signs of infection (breast redness and tenderness or flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches, malaise and headache), or if you think the lump is not related to breastfeeding .
Problem #2. The breast is red and sore
If one or both mammary glands are red and sore, and this is not due to blockage of the ducts, the possibility of mastitis, that is, inflammation of the breast tissue, is not excluded. Mastitis is characterized by redness, burning, and soreness of the breasts, combined with flu-like symptoms: You feel hot and cold, your joints ache, and your temperature rises above 38. 5 °C (101.3 °F). Seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms. Mastitis needs to be treated as soon as possible, as your condition can worsen in just a few hours. 3
Mastitis can be caused by the following causes:
untreated blocked ducts,
Bacteria entering the breast through cracked and damaged nipples,
incorrect attachment of the child to the breast,
long periods between feedings,
breasts too full,
wearing a bra that is too tight or that cuts into the skin,
Solutions 3 In addition to seeking medical attention:
Continue to breastfeed or express milk frequently. Your milk is still safe for your baby. Its release will help eliminate blockage of the ducts and prevent painful accumulation of milk. Sudden cessation of feeding or pumping may exacerbate symptoms. After feeding, it is advisable to express any remaining milk.
Give the child the inflamed breast first. This way the child can empty it completely. If it hurts too much, start feeding on the healthy breast, and when milk begins to flow, go back to the first one.
Have a good rest, drink and eat. You need to get enough fluids and good nutrition.
Massage the sore area under a warm shower or apply a warm flannel or warm pack to clear the blockage and relieve symptoms before feeding or pumping.
Apply a cooling pack after feeding, , to reduce inflammation.
Problem #3. My strength is running out
Breastfeeding in the first weeks can be very tiring and seem endless. The baby will ask for a breast every few hours, day and night, and you have not yet grown stronger after giving birth.
Take care of yourself. This may be easier said than done when you have a newborn in your arms, but still try to get as much rest as possible, eat healthy and regular meals, and drink plenty of water. Do not refuse the help of your partner, relatives and friends, or even hire an assistant if you can afford it.
Feed lying down. This will allow you to relax and reduce stress on sore spots, stitches or c-section scars.
Do not skip feedings. Your partner may offer to bottle feed your baby while you are resting. However, despite this temptation, it should be remembered that milk production is best established in the first four weeks through breastfeeding. When breastfeeding is well established, you can give your baby expressed milk, but before that, ask family or friends to help you with other things so you can fully focus on breastfeeding.
Problem #4. How can I increase breast milk production?
It's easy to question whether you're making enough breast milk, especially when your baby has developmental spikes between the third and fourth weeks. It may seem to you that the child asks for breasts more often because he does not have enough milk. However, if the number of wet and soiled diapers doesn't change—see Breastfeeding: What to Expect in the First Month—the baby is likely to breastfeed more often to calm down. The baby is surrounded by many new sounds and images that are easy to get tired of, and at the breast he feels safe. 4
Do not try to supplement your baby with formula, unless doctors are worried about weight gain or fluid loss. Continue breastfeeding your baby. This will help naturally increase breast milk production.
Do not feed on a schedule. Feed your baby on demand. Thus, the production of breast milk will adapt to his needs.
Use the breast pump, , to help increase breast milk production while continuing to breastfeed.
Problem #5. I have too much milk
Hyperlactation, or too much milk, can also be difficult for you and your baby. You may experience discomfort from swollen and leaking breasts, and your baby may have difficulty latch-on, choke on the milk flowing too fast, and be unable to empty the breast properly. 6
Express some breast milk at the start of a feed to reduce the force of the flush. Don't pump too much as this can aggravate the situation - pump only as much as needed to ease the discomfort. Try hand pumping or use a breast pump (check out the Medela* breast pump range and choose the right one for you).
Use towel or pad to soak up excess milk, or place the Milk Collection Pad** on the other breast while you breastfeed first.
The child must feel supported. Hold him firmly (this gives a sense of security) and in a comfortable position so that he can turn his head. Talk to the baby during the first rapid flush, then he will not be frightened by surprise and will not push the breast.
Contact a lactation consultant or health care professional who will monitor you and suggest single-sided feedings or hourly breast changes (“breast duty”) to normalize your milk supply.
Be patient . Problems with milk production usually go away after a few weeks.
Problem #6. I have different breasts!
You have noticed that the baby has a preference for one breast, or that one breast produces more milk than the other, and as a result, the mammary glands have become of different sizes and shapes. This happens quite often and does not pose any problems for breastfeeding. If this does not bother you or your baby, you can leave everything as it is. If this makes you uncomfortable, try the following tricks.
During feeding, offer the less demanded breast first as babies usually suckle more vigorously at the beginning of feeding.
Use the breast pump to increase breast milk production in the smaller breast.
Don't give up on bigger breasts. Breastfeeding should continue with fuller breasts to avoid blocked ducts and mastitis.
See a doctor. Sometimes an ear infection is the reason for a baby to latch on only one side. However, some positions may cause him discomfort, so try to keep the child more upright. In addition, a breast infection can change the taste of milk and cause milk to be rejected as well.
Problem #7. A blister has appeared on the nipple
With frequent feeding, sometimes painful friction occurs, and a blood blister may appear on the breast, nipple or areola. 7
Ask a lactation consultant or specialist to check the baby's latch on. A shallow grip can cause blistering of the nipples and areolas.
Talk to your doctor about what medicine you can take to relieve pain if needed.
Try other feeding positions to avoid pressure on the painful area.
Lubricate inflammation with pure lanolin.
Use Breast Pads** to avoid rubbing your blister with clothing and help it heal faster with air circulation, or try cooling hydrogel pads** to help relieve pain and promote healing.
Try expressing milk. Using a breast pump can be an alternative way to get breast milk without bladder irritation. Choose the correct funnel size so that the nipple can move freely and the bubble does not rub against the walls of the tunnel.
Do not pierce the vial as this may lead to infection.
Seek medical attention, if the problem persists and causes you pain.
Problem #8. Painful white spot on nipple
When the orifice of the milk duct becomes blocked with milk or a thin layer of skin grows over it, a small white or yellowish spot may appear on the tip of the nipple. For some, these blocked ducts, sometimes called milk vesicles or blisters, cause pinpoint pain, especially during feeding or pumping. Others do not experience any discomfort. White blisters may persist for several days or weeks until the skin breaks and hardened milk comes out. 8
Follow the tips above to solve friction bubble problems.
Remove the blockage, if you see that the milk cork is starting to bulge. Try to squeeze it out very gently with clean nails.
Continue breastfeeding or pumping, to clear the milk duct. If the milk duct clears during feeding, it will not harm the baby in any way.
Apply hot wet flannel to the vial just before feeding or pumping. This will help open the blocked duct. You can also try rubbing the area quickly with a clean, damp cloth.
Manually express some milk before feeding, trying to push out hardened milk clots. If this does not help, feed the baby or express milk as usual. Repeat several times a day.
Soak a cotton swab with olive oil and place it in the bra, pressing it against the bubble nipple. This will help soften the skin.
Seek medical attention, if problem persists. Your doctor may remove the plug with a sterile needle. This should be done immediately after feeding, when the bubble is as inflated as possible.
Issue #9. My nipples hurt while breastfeeding
At the start of breastfeeding, my nipples may become more tender, sore, and even inflamed, but this usually goes away after a few days. If your baby's latch is checked by a specialist and the inflammation persists or the nipples hurt with every feeding, you may need medical attention to resolve this problem. 2.7
The following symptoms and signs that appear on one or both breasts during or after feeding may indicate a bacterial infection or thrush:
burning, itching or moderate to severe pain in the nipples
pain in nipples aggravated by contact with clothing,
nipple pain persists despite attempts to attach baby differently,
nipples hurt to touch,
stitching, shooting, burning or deep aching pain,
chest pain during feeding and almost an hour after,
hot pink nipples,
discoloration and texture of the areola (hot pink, darkening, dryness or peeling),
white rash on chest or areola.
Also check if your child has the following symptoms and signs:
hard white patches or coating on the tongue,
white indelible spots on the cheeks,
bright red spotted rash on buttocks not helped by diaper rash creams.
Seek medical attention. He will most likely suggest testing for infections to make a diagnosis. Bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections are treated differently, so appropriate treatment should be started as soon as possible. There are other reasons that can cause similar nipple pain, such as eczema, psoriasis or vasospasm (narrowing of the blood vessels) in the mother and problems with latch or tongue frenulum in the child. Therefore, it is very important to make an accurate diagnosis.
Strict hygiene. Wash hands before and after feeding and applying any medication, and after changing diapers. Change bra pads regularly, wash bras, tank tops and towels in high temperature water, thoroughly wash breast cups and anything your baby puts in her mouth, such as nipples.
Let the nipples dry after feeding, as all infections love a warm and humid environment.
See your doctor again if there is no improvement after a few days. Do not let the problem run its course, otherwise the situation may worsen.
Related materials. Breastfeeding: what to expect in the first month
Breastfeeding: what to expect after the first month
Breastfeeding problems after the first month
1 Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM clinical protocol # 20: Engorgement. Breastfeed Med. 2009;4(2):111-113.- Breastfeeding Academy Protocol Committee, "AVM Clinical Protocol #20: Breast engorgement." Brestfeed Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2009;4(2):111-113.
2 Jacobs A et al. S3-guidelines for the treatment of inflammatory breast disease during the lactation period. Geburtshilfe and Frauenheilkunde . 2013;73(12):1202-1208. - Jacobs A. et al., "Recommendations 2014;9(5):239-243.
4 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". G Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121.
5 Amir L. Breastfeeding managing ‘supply’ difficulties. Aust fam physician . 2006;35(9):686. - - Amir L., "Breastfeeding: problems of 'supply'. Aust fam physis. 2006;35(9):686.
6 Trimeloni L, Spencer J. Diagnosis and management of breast milk oversupply Journal Am Board Fam Med . 2016;29(1):139-142. - Trimeloni L., Spencer J., "Diagnosis and correction of excessive breast milk production. " Journal Am Bord Fam Med. 2016;29(1):139-142.
7 Berens P et al. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM Clinical Protocol# 26: Persistent pain with breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med. 2016;11(2):46-53. - Behrens P. et al., Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, "AVM Clinical Protocol #26: Persistence of Pain During Breastfeeding." Brestfeed Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2016;11(2):46-53.
8 Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet] White spot nipple; March 2015 [Accessed 02/08/2018]. - Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet], "White spots on the nipples", March 2015 [visited 02/08/2018].
Read instructions before use. Consult a specialist about possible contraindications.
* RU № ФСЗ 2010/06525 dated 03/17/2021
** RU ФСЗ 2010/07352 dated 07/19/10
What is breast swelling? | breast swelling
Some mothers experience swelling of the mammary glands when milk begins to flow in the first days after childbirth. Usually this phenomenon is temporary and easily eliminated. Read our article to find out how to help yourself.
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Sioned Hilton, health visitor, neonatal nurse and lactation consultant: A mother of three, Sioned Hilton has been supporting families with newborns and young children for over 30 years. She provides advice on breastfeeding and pumping, both in clinics and at home. In addition, Schoned writes articles for parenting magazines, attends conferences, and conducts seminars for attending physicians.
When you start breastfeeding, you first produce a small amount of colostrum, which gradually increases over the first few days. After about two to four days, production increases significantly. This phenomenon is called the "arrival" of milk. 1
One of the signs that milk is starting to come in is a change in the breast - it fills up and becomes firmer. This is due not only to an increase in the amount of milk, but also to increased blood flow and additional lymphatic fluid to the breast tissues. 2
If the baby eats well and often, for most mothers this feeling of heaviness disappears over time without any complications. However, some women produce so much milk that their breasts fill up and become painful and very hard. This condition is called breast swelling. And although everything usually passes in a day or two, this period can be quite painful.
How does swelling of the mammary glands manifest itself?
Swelling may affect one or both breasts. It can cause swelling, sometimes down to the armpits, and a throbbing sensation. The chest becomes quite hot, sometimes lumps are felt in it. All this is due to the fact that a huge number of processes take place inside. You may also notice other symptoms, such as the skin on your breasts becoming shiny and tight, and your nipples becoming hard and flat. Swelling of the mammary glands can even cause a temperature to rise to 37.5–38.3°C (99–101°F). 3
In addition to pain, swollen breasts are also dangerous because they can make breastfeeding difficult, and this, in turn, will worsen the situation even more. If the baby finds it difficult to latch on because the nipples have become flat and the breast tissue is firmer, nipples may become inflamed. In addition, in case of a bad grip, he will not be able to completely empty the chest. Thus, if left untreated, swelling of the mammary glands can lead to blockage of the milk ducts, mastitis, and reduced milk production.
What causes breast swelling?
Usually breast swelling is due to the fact that the child does not feed often enough (less than eight times a day). In principle, this can happen to any mother, but women who have undergone various breast surgeries, including breast augmentation, are more prone to swelling of the mammary glands. 2 Wearing a bra that is the wrong size or is too tight can increase discomfort and lead to clogged milk ducts and even mastitis.
Breast swelling can occur in both breastfeeding mothers and mothers who are not or cannot breastfeed. The hormonal changes that occur after the birth of a baby and the release of the placenta and increase milk production are independent of whether you are breastfeeding or not. Swelling can also occur if the number of feedings is drastically reduced, for example, if the child becomes ill, sleeps longer, starts eating solid foods, or goes to nursery.
How to treat breast swelling?
The best cure for swollen breasts is a hungry baby! Try to empty your breasts as much and as often as possible to facilitate the release of milk. To do this, feed your baby on demand, preferably eight to twelve times a day.
Maintain skin-to-skin contact with your baby, cuddling as often as possible during the day and at night when you are awake. This will allow him to smell the attractive smell of your milk and have easy access to the breast, and you will be able to better monitor signs that he is hungry and, accordingly, feed more often. Let the baby eat enough from one breast before offering the second.
It's a good idea to see a lactation consultant or specialist to check if your baby is properly grasped and positioned. It depends on how well he will eat and empty his chest. The tips below will also help you relieve the symptoms of breast swelling.
Tips for alleviating the symptoms of breast swelling 2
Breastfeed at least eight times a day.
Make sure your baby is latching on well.
Try other feeding positions.
Gently massage your breasts during feeding to improve the flow of milk.
Express some milk by hand or with a breast pump before feeding to soften the nipple and make it easier for your baby to latch on.
If your breasts are still firm and full after a feed, pump more until you feel better.
If your baby cannot breastfeed, express milk for him. Pumping must be continued until the breast becomes softer, and do this at least eight times a day.
Try the areola pressure softening technique. This helps to remove excess fluid from the breast. A lactation consultant or specialist will show you how to do this.
If milk leaks, try taking warm showers or applying a warm flannel to your breasts just before feeding or pumping to soften your breasts and make it easier for your milk to flow. You should not, however, warm the chest for more than two minutes, as this can only increase swelling.
If your milk doesn't leak, try applying cold compresses, chilled gel pads, or even frozen green peas wrapped in a towel for ten minutes after feeding to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Put clean cabbage leaves in your bra. Yes Yes! For many moms, it really helps reduce swelling and discomfort, and there are scientific explanations for this. 4
Take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. While breastfeeding, you can take some medications, in consultation with your doctor. Always consult your doctor, follow the drug manufacturer's instructions and the pharmacist's recommendations. To learn more about medications and breastfeeding, read our article on breastfeeding when sick.
Wear an appropriately sized and comfortable nursing bra, avoid underwire or no bra at all.
Do not skip feedings or stop breastfeeding abruptly as this may increase breast swelling.
Seek medical advice if your 5 temperature rises above 38°C or if your baby is unable to suckle due to breast swelling.
And in any case, try to remain calm. Your body is just getting used to producing milk and feeding your baby. Breast swelling should go away on its own soon after you both get comfortable with breastfeeding.
1 Pang WW, Hartmann PE. Initiation of human lactation: secretory differentiation and secretory activation. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007;12(4):211-221. - Pang, W.W., Hartmann, P.I., "Lactation initiation in the lactating mother: secretory differentiation and secretory activation." G Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007;12(4):211-221.
3 Affronti M Low-grade fever: how to distinguish organic from non-organic forms. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(3):316-321. - Affronti M. et al., "Subfebrile temperature: how to distinguish organic from non-organic cases." Int Zh Klin Prakt. 2010;64(3):316-321.
4 Boi B et al. The effectiveness of cabbage leaf application (treatment) on pain and hardness in breast engorgement and its effect on the duration of breastfeeding. JBI Libr Syst Rev . 2012;10(20):1185-1213. - Boi B. et al., "Effectiveness of cabbage leaf (as a drug) for breast pain and engorgement, and its effect on duration of breastfeeding." JBAi Libr Sist Rev. 2012;10(20):1185-1213.
5 NHS Choices. How do I take someone's temperature? [Internet].