10 Tips for Managing Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement is a common problem that many new moms experience. The breast milk builds up and creates discomfort for the mother. In this post, we will go over 10 tips to help manage breast engorgement and provide relief to mothers who are using breastfeeding as their primary source of nourishment for their babies.

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1. When engorged, pump or breastfeed every 2-3 hours

It’s important to keep the breast milk supply steady and to drain it to relieve the pain caused by engorgement.

Pumping or breastfeeding every two-three hours can help you do that, but if your baby is not feeding frequently enough then consider waking them for their feedings.

2. Take a hot shower to help with milk let-down

Taking a hot shower can help with milk let-down and can help get your baby latched on. If you can take a shower then it will be easier to work through potentially clogged ducts and help with your letdown. The hot water also relieves some of the pain associated with engorgement.

3. Massage your breasts before pumping or breastfeeding

Massaging can help get the milk flowing through your breasts, so it makes sense that you would want to do this beforehand. However, if you are in pain then maybe wait until after feeding or pumping because some women say that massaging their breast when they’re engorged is painful and can make them more uncomfortable than not doing at all.

If you are engorged, then you can massage your breasts using an upward motion with the pads of your fingers. It may feel like it’s just making things worse at first but if done correctly, this method should help to relieve some pain and discomfort associated with engorgement by helping to move milk through clogged ducts.

4. Apply heat packs to your breasts after nursing 

Heat can help to relieve the pressure that is associated with engorgement. You can apply heat packs for around 15 minutes each after nursing which will help decrease inflammation and reduce pain caused by blocked ducts.

5. Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in protein and calcium 

Drinking water is essential for hydration and healthy breast milk production. It also helps with the pressure that is associated with engorgement.

Eating foods high in protein and calcium can help to increase your supply of breast milk, so it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating while trying to manage engorgement. Some great sources of protein include:

eggs, lean meats, fish, and beans.

You can also get more calcium by eating foods like leafy greens (e.g., kale), broccoli, almonds, or sesame seeds.

6. Wear soft clothing that is not too tight around the chest area

When you are dealing with engorgement you want to wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to take off. Avoid wearing tight clothes because it can make things worse by restricting airflow around your chest which will only exacerbate the discomfort.


7. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it doesn’t always come naturally

Sometimes moms need help to ensure breastfeeding is going properly. Be sure to reach out to a lactation consultant to make sure everything is going well. They can help to identify any potential problems and provide relief.

For example, a lactation consultant could give you ideas on how to increase your supply or they may show you different positions that will make it easier for your baby to latch on properly.

8. Encourage yourself to keep going by reminding yourself that your milk will continue to produce and the engorgement phase will end

Breastfeeding can sometimes be a difficult process. You need to have confidence in your ability to nourish your baby. It’s natural for women to worry about their milk supply and go through some trials, so it may be helpful to remind yourself that if you are doing the right steps then things will improve.

Engorgement is a common problem that many mothers experience when breastfeeding, but the good news is that it typically resolves

9. Use a cold compress to help with swelling

Using cold compresses can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. You can do this after you nurse for treating engorged breasts and help with the swelling but it doesn’t help with milk flow so it’s best to be done after the breastfeeding session.

10. Keep breastfeeding as often as possible during the day for at least 15 minutes each time 

The best way to relieve engorgement is to breastfeed or pump as often as possible until they are empty. Don’t skip feedings because that will cause your milk supply to diminish and it can create a vicious cycle.

If you are engorged then feeding or pumping as often as possible is the best way to help alleviate discomfort caused by blocked ducts, clogged milk ducts, and mastitis. It also stimulates your body’s natural reset mechanism which will help to decrease the swelling that is associated with engorgement.

Breastfeeding can be difficult sometimes, but if you’re patient and follow these steps then things should get better over time!

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What causes breast engorgement?

Engorged breasts can be caused by not breastfeeding or pumping enough, but it can also be caused by other factors like wearing tight clothing, and not drinking enough water (dehydration).

What are the symptoms of breast engorgement?

Symptoms include painful breasts that feel hot and warm when touched and swollen breast tissue. You can apply heat packs for around 15 minutes each after nursing which will help decrease inflammation and reduce pain caused by blocked ducts.

Drinking water is essential for hydration and healthy milk production. It also helps with the pressure that is associated with engorgement.

Should I pump to relieve engorgement?

Pumping if you are unable to breastfeed at the moment is a great way to help alleviate breast engorgement. You can take a warm shower to help start the milk flow before you breastfeed or begin to pump.

how much breast milk for newborns

How long does engorgement usually last?

Some, on the other hand, produce almost more milk than their breasts can contain, resulting in a painful fullness – known as engorgement. The discomfort can last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, however, it is typically only temporary.

How long before engorgement turns into mastitis?

It generally appears in the first two to three weeks of nursing, although it can happen at any time throughout lactation. Mastitis presents quickly and has a more general, systemic impact than a blocked duct.

To prevent Mastitis be sure to fully empty your breast with each feeding.


Breast engorgement is a common problem that can be managed through proper care. Be sure to follow these steps and keep consulting your lactation consultant if the symptoms continue.

Breast engorgement is one of the most common problems women face when breastfeeding and can be managed through proper care. Be sure to follow these tips for relief!

Be sure to read How Much Should Breastfed Babies Poop? and The 10 Best Glass Bottles for Breastfed Babies

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.