Treatment for Engorgement

  • To start milk flow, use warm, moist heat on the breasts for a few minutes, or take a brief warm shower before breastfeeding. (Note: Using heat for extended periods of time, over five minutes, may make swelling worse.)
  • Hand expression or brief use of a breast pump will soften the nipple and areolar tissue, making it easier for your baby to latch well and deeply.
  • Pumping once to completely drain the breasts after baby nurses can resolve engorgement for some women. Then return to frequent breastfeeding to manage breast fullness.
  • Gently massage and compress the breast when your baby pauses between sucks. This helps drain the breast, leaving less milk behind.
  • A bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel, or a sports pack works well as a cold compress after feedings. This can be done for 15 minutes at a time, every hour as needed.
  • A well-fitted but not too tight supportive nursing bra makes some women feel better.
  • Get enough rest, proper nutrition and fluids.
  • A fever higher than 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or severe pain may signal a breast infection. Call your healthcare provider if this occurs.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about medications, such as ibuprofen, which may help to reduce pain and inflammation.