32 answers

Help! My Breasts Are So Engorged and Very Painful

My daughter is 10 days old and my breasts are way over engorged. They feel, esp the right breast, like they've been punched and kicked. They won't calm down in size no matter how much she eats or how much I pump off for relief. She isn't a huge eater right now so I have to resort to the pump but I know this tells my breasts she is eating more than she is but I don't know what to do. Ibuprofen and ice packing aren't helping and now I feel like I have the flu. My body aches all over but I don't have a temperature - I'm actually sub normal. With my first child, I did get a breast infection and had to go on antibiotics. Back then, my breasts were very painful and I had a high fever. I feel the same way now as I did then so I fear it's happening again except no fever. Any advice would be extremely helpful right now if you've experienced the same thing. I really need relief. Thanks moms.

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I went through the same thing... hot showers helped 'a little', but I used a heating pad first, then shower and drank a wonder herbal tea called "Mother's Milk" that helped a ton! You can get it at the grocery store.

Good luck!

It took a few days / weeks for my boobs to even out with my baby's needs. They were definitely ridiculously huge and painful for a while, but that did go away. I did not pump, I just let things even out with time. I did apply warm washcloths several times a day in the beginning, which helped to ease the achiness. I did not ache all over, though - just the boobs.

When I was engorged I used cold cabbage leaves in my bra and also taking a warm shower and trying to manually massage and express the milk.

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The nurses in the NICU had me put my breat in a basin of warm water for maybve 10-15 minutes and then pump.

When I first stopped nursing my first son I got extremely engorged, the more you pump the more you will produce, Ice is very good, no heat. You may want to talk to the lactation nurses at your hospital, they can be very helpful and will see you anytime, you don't want to take the chance of becoming impacted, I understand that it is extremely painful. Good Luck!

Be careful with the cabbage leaves because they can dry your milk up completely within a day or two. It sounds like you may be developing mastitus, which if left untreated will turn into an infection.

To treat mastitus, mix warm salt water in a bowl large enough that you can dip your breast into it. Soak your breast for about 5 minutes, then do the other one. Do this several times a day to help break up any blockage. If you think back to HS science class, this works by osmosis; the salty water outside the breast forces the liquids inside the breast through the ducts and clears them. Do compresses and warm showers too. Seek the advice of La Leche League...they told me about the salt water treatment and your doctor if you begin feeling worse.

I'm on my third round of antibiotics right now for breast infections. The doc says if it doesn't work this time, I will have to have them surgically drained. Breast infections are serious, and antibiotics are the best bet. Dont wait though cuz it just gets harder to cure.

My doc suggested moist heat and ibuprofen. When I went to the doc yesterday, she gave me stronger antibiotics, and vicodin. I'm still in pain AND I'm not producing much milk. My supply has gradually decreased as the infection wore on these five weeks.

Call the doc. If you have kaiser they will give you antibiotics over the phone.

Youre not simply engorged if you cant pump youself to releif. Engorged is when you have too much milk. You pump it off, and your okay. If you are simply producing too much milk, you still get releif when you feed or pump, then just fill up fast. You have a breast infection.

I had the same problem after I gave birth in May. The literature the hospital provided said to dip your breasts in warm water. It releases milk without stimulating them so they won't produce more. I filled up the bathroom sink and tried it a couple times and did feel some relief. It was pretty awkward at first but I was desperate for any relief. Warm showers or pumping just stimulates your breasts into producing more.

i just had my second and went through very bad engorgement, so much that at night i was in tears b/c my son could not latch on well and it was taking over an hour to nurse him each time. i was so upset and panicked, i couldnt even pump for relief., they were so tight nothing was working. well, my midwife came over for one of her visits and i was at wits end and she said, you know i bet you will be feeling better soon. engorgement is really normal for most women and it generally lasts 3 days, so just stick with it and you will feel better. it was so nice not to hear too much advice about what to change, just to let it pass, you know? with my first kid i was pumping each time and working so hard it was a lot to handle. this time, just let time run its course and it took just as long both ways. the night after she left, my boobs leaked all night long and the next morning were still big but not so tight, next day totally normal. so whatever you do, DONT STRESS! what i did do to help my son get milk was to massage the breasts with lansinoh very deeply. pull from the outside all the way to the aereola. the baby book by dr sears has nice diagrams and extra tips i wished i had read regarding proper massage techniques. good luck!

IT may behelpful to apply warm heat just beforeyou feed her for 5 -10 min it helps with the letdown reflex . only pump after feeding to make your breasts soft. try not to pump in between . also after you have nursed wear a tight fitting bra just until the next feeding. taking extra calculum with vitamin d and silicon. also this sounds funny but putting red cabbage leaves on yur breast can help the engoragement. good luck S..

It took a few days / weeks for my boobs to even out with my baby's needs. They were definitely ridiculously huge and painful for a while, but that did go away. I did not pump, I just let things even out with time. I did apply warm washcloths several times a day in the beginning, which helped to ease the achiness. I did not ache all over, though - just the boobs.

Take a warm bath and make sure your breasts are submerged in the water. This will release the milk and you will feel relief. I had this with my second baby as well and I felt so much better after the baths. It was a lot esier and better for the entire body than trying to dip your breasts in a basin of warm water.

Dear G.,

sounds like you have a bountiful amount of milk. Raw green cabbage leaves applyed to the breasts can help reduce the pain. Perhaps if you nurse the same side a couple times, baby will be better able to empty the breast. Hand express a little on the unused side so the supply will decrease. Baby then will have the right amount of milk needed. I am guessing about the answer by what you said. Check La Leche leagues web site for too much milk or look at my web site for my contact information www.mybreastfeeding.com

When I was engorged I used cold cabbage leaves in my bra and also taking a warm shower and trying to manually massage and express the milk.

Hi G.,
I have a 17 day old baby myself and I just recently had mastitus in one breast. This sounds exactly like what I had. I felt like I was coming down with the flu when i went to bed, then the next day I woke up with a VERY tender breast and a red patch on my skin (over a hard lump in my boob)

I know a hot shower makes you feel better but my doctor actually told me that it makes your breasts want to make more milk, which makes the clogged duct even worse.

What my doc recommended was (I know this sounds strange!) but put COLD GREEN cabbage on the surface of your breasts. It is supposed to help pull the clog out. And she said that the best fix is the baby nursing. She told me to put the baby's chin torwards the "clog" because they suck harder on the chin side. She also said to favor that side (but don't forget about the other side!) and to drink LOTS of fluids to thin out your milk and take 600 mg of Ibuprophin.

Anyways, mine went away the next day, but she said if it had gottan any worse then to go on antibiodics ASAP. Well good luck! It will get better : - )

I had this too- I got really infected with my son, and then later with my girl.
What you are going through is normal, granted a painful normal, but it is normal.
Think of it this way, when you daughter starts with a more solid pattern, than your breasts will do the same. She is only 10 days, so give your breasts and daughter a little more time to adjust.
In the meantime, if you can get ahold of probotics, to help prevent infection, or eat yoghurt (which have probotics).
Also, take it easy if you can and have someone help you with your older daughter. It would help your body rest, for health, sanity and might help your body balance.
Hope this helps.

Seriously, cabbage leaves. And if you can take it ice packs for about an hour. They have the kind that aren't really ice and don't really freeze that are a lot easier to take. Look in the lunch box section or by the foot/ankle pain area. Oh also, when I was in the hospital they packed ice into a diaper. It worked great (not too cold) and the packs lasted a long time. Just cut open the diaper, fill with ice and tape it closed. I hope you feel better.

Take a warm shower and let them hang down. If you pump too much, they'll just refill to meet what your body percieves as demand... so sorry for your pain, and hope it ends soon.

Hi G. What I did was stand in a hot shower and lightly massage my breasts. I took bottles in with me and when I was bent over drying my feet the milk was coming out so I held the bottles there to catch the milk. This happened with most of my showers so I didn't have to pump much. You are making more by pumping so cut back on that a bit. Good luck it is painful to be engorged.

Cabbage leaves in your bra.

G., you may have mastisis - I had it with my daughter and it sounds exactly like that (except for the temp. as you point out but that doesn't mean it isn't mastisis). Since you are breast feeding they will probably tell you to skip the antibiotics and pump through it but I would definitely call your doctor for an immediate appt. because it is SOOO painful!! Good luck!

Hello G.,

It sounds like you have mastitis to me. You need to get it checked out. It might be in the very beginning stages right now but I would surely go get checked out ASAP if I were you.

G. dear-

I am pretty certain you are either coming down with a breast infection or you already have one. I would get yourself to your doctor ASAP! they are so painful and I didn't know I had one until I spiked a really HIGH fever. Warm compresses help, and then getting your baby to suckle or use a breast pump as often as possible both work. But if you have an infection, then the only way to get rid of it will be with antibiotics.

Good luck!

Oh the memories!
I found warm showers provided a lot of relief.
And - surprisingly! - nice round cabbage leaves. Take the big outer leaves and put it over your breast. It should fit pretty nicely inside of your bra. The coolness is very soothing, and I think there may actually be something in the cabbage that is good.
The other thing to remember is just be patient... it won't last forever - probably no more than a few days. And if, like me, you are 'leaking' a lot, even that will stop within a few months as you and your daughter adjust to each other.
Good luck!

Oh - and drink lots of water!!!

Dear G.,
Your baby is so new. Congratulations!
When I had my first baby, I had no idea what I was in for with how big my boobs would get. My milk came in and I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. My whole body hurt. I literally felt like I should just take a pin and pop my boobies like balloons. I was in agony.
I hope you don't have another infection. But I learned a trick one day quite by accident....a nice hot shower and I was sqirting milk like a fountain. It was such a relief with no wear and tear from pumping. It worked for me with both babies.

I had a bout with serious engorgement as well, and it felt so painful - like pins and needles and achiness.
Do try the green cabbage leaves! I found that it helped, although no one really knows why. Here is a link to a page that I found helpful to describe the process. It takes just a bit of time to prep the leaves. I prepared a whole head of cabbage leaves and put them in a large ziploc bag in the refrigerator, so that I had a stack ready to go. http://www.lactationconsultant.info/cabbagecure.html

Also try Reverse Pressure Softening. I was recommended this by a lactation consultant who is also with La Leche League. Here is a link that describes the technique and provides visuals for how to do it.

Good luck! I know it's painful and uncomfortable, but you may be able to just work through it w/o antibiotics (esp. if you do NOT have shooting pains).

Hi G. - I would like to recommend that you research magnosteen juice as a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. XanGo, whole fruit mangosteen juice supplement can be used by all ages and is not a medication. Mangosteen has been used for centuries throughout Southeast Asia and its anti-inflammatory properties are well documented. Visit www.referralco-op.com or go to xango.com and contact me if you would like for me to deliver or mail juice samples. I am in San Jose. I wish I had had XanGo when I was breast-feeding my three children (now all adults). Be well. Sincerely, V. G. :o)

Hi G., something that may help would be to take tylenol for the discomfort. Buy a cabbage with nice large leaves and refrigerate it. When it is nice and chilled, break two leaves off and roll the spine of the leaf with a rolling pin to break the spine. Then place one leaf inside each side of your bra. This should help somewhat with the discomfort and engorgement. It's a suggestion I received from other LLL Leaders. Also, nursing frequently is the best medicine for engorgement. You can also fill a bowl or your bathroom sink basin with warm water and lean your breasts into it (one at a time) and massage your breast from the back to the nipple and try to express the milk out. This is also very good for mastitis. Good luck!

I don't think you have to have a high fever to have a breast infection - I would check with your doctor. Also, the doctor may be able to give you a pain reliever until the engorgement subsides.

Good luck! It will get better!

Congrats on your new baby.

Shortly after my daughter was born, she was back in the hospital and I was feeling the pain of engorgement. The nurses took damp towels,put them in plastic bags, and microwaved them. Then put a thin towel around the plastic bag of towels. I stuffed those things in my shirt, around my breasts, and felt so much better. I did that for days on end. They'd cool down and back into the microwave the bundle went.


Sounds like a breast infection. Go get on antibiotics. I've had two without a fever. If it hurts and especially if you feel flu symptoms it is time to call your doctor.

Oh yeah, and baths are a good idea IF your doctor gives you the okay. Usually you should wait 6 to 8 weeks before taking a bath so maybe the shower is a better idea for now.

Hi G.,

I know others have already suggested this, but I just wanted to put in a vote for cabbage leaves. Our doula suggested this, and it worked well for me. Good luck. I had a lot of pain in the beginning of breastfeeding, but now that my son is 9 months old I am so glad we stuck it out. It's the most wonderful thing.

Hey there. I would check with the La Leche League. They are very good about answering questions via telephone or email. They would probably be the best direction to go in since this is what they are all about.

When I was weaning and became engorged the dr told me to wear a sports bra even to bed and that really helped. She also had me express some milk with my fingers while taking a warm bath. That helped as well. You have a lot going on I would make a phone call to your dr. Congrats on your new baby.

I went through the same thing... hot showers helped 'a little', but I used a heating pad first, then shower and drank a wonder herbal tea called "Mother's Milk" that helped a ton! You can get it at the grocery store.

Good luck!

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