How to Treat Engorgement?

  • December 09, 2023
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How to Treat Engorgement?

What is Engorgement?

Engorgement, characterized by breast swelling and firmness due to milk accumulation, is commonly linked to breastfeeding, particularly in the initial postpartum days. This discomfort, pain, and difficulty in breastfeeding are typical. Early postpartum engorgement, occurring shortly after childbirth, signifies the shift from the initial lactation stage during pregnancy to the subsequent phase.

A few days after delivery, as milk production begins, heightened blood and lymph circulation to the breasts results in increased fluid volume, causing pain and symptoms. Thankfully, early postpartum engorgement is transient, with peak symptoms usually at five days post-delivery. Relief often occurs by the two-week postpartum mark through established methods to mitigate discomfort effectively.

Why Does Engorgement Occur?

Engorgement occurs due to an increased blood flow to the breast tissues and the filling of milk ducts with milk. This can happen for various reasons:

  1. Postpartum Changes: After childbirth, hormonal changes trigger the initiation of milk production. The breasts undergo significant changes, leading to the initial fullness and engorgement.
  2. Delayed Breastfeeding Initiation: Engorgement is more likely to occur if breastfeeding is delayed or if there are challenges with latching and effective breastfeeding in the early days.
  3. Oversupply of Milk: An oversupply of breast milk can contribute to engorgement, as the breasts may become overly full between feedings.
  4. Incomplete Emptying of Breasts: If the breasts are not adequately emptied during breastfeeding, either due to a poor latch or short nursing sessions, engorgement can occur.