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Many women experience breast fullness between days 2-6 after giving birth.  Breast fullness will start with the breasts feeling heavier and warm to touch.  Your breasts might become very full and uncomfortable.  This is normal and only lasts 24-48 hours.  Here you will find useful tips to help you get through it.



Take a breastfeeding class during pregnancy to learn how to latch baby

Breastfeed within the first hour of birth

Breastfeed often (8-12  times in 24 hours)

Breastfeed on both sides

If baby is sleepy wake baby to feed about every 2-3 hours

Pump your breasts (8-10 times a day) if you are separated from your baby

Drink plenty of fluids

Seek a lactation consultant if engorgement continues past 48 hours or if the baby is having trouble latching.


×  Don’t Skip feedings even at night

×  Don’t supplement after feeding unless there is a medical reason

×  Don’t have others feed the baby in the first couple of weeks

×  Don’t panic- seek help from a lactation consultant in your area

×  Don’t pump too much milk out if the baby is feeding well at the breast- this can cause over supply

×  Don’t wait for your breasts to feel full before you feed

×  Don’t Wear a tight fitting bra

Why do women get engorged?

This is normal.  It is very different for each women.  Some women will experience no engorgement.  This usually happens when a baby latches on in the first hour and continues to feed well 10-12 times in 24 hours.  Other women my experience fullness even when the baby is nursing frequently.  Fullness may subside after baby feeds and then return quickly. This is the time that the body is figuring out how much milk to make and some women’s body wants to make enough milk to feed three babies! Your body will adjust to make as much milk as your baby takes out.  Within ten days your breasts will begin to feel soft and empty.  When this happens your body has adjusted to your baby’s need for milk.  This is not a sign that you don’t have enough milk.  It is a good sign that you and your baby are doing really.  Women who supplement in the early days experience engorgement more frequently and for a longer period of time.

If baby is having trouble latching

  • If your breast feel very full and the dark part around your nipple (the areola) is feeling hard to the touch.  Gently massage your breasts and express a little milk into the sink, cup or towel. This will make latching the baby easier. 
  • Use cool compress in between feedings for about 20 minutes at a time (a frozen wash cloth works well)
  • Use gentle breast compression (place hand on breast with thumb on top and fingers on bottom and gentle squeeze) and massage during feeding to help milk come out
  • You can also pump on a low setting for a couple of minutes prior to feeding to soften the Areola

If you have a baby and do not breastfeed

There are very few medical reasons a women cannot breastfeed, but sometimes things happen and breastfeeding is not a choice.  If you are unable to breastfeed your body will still produce milk.  You may feel engorged and need relief.  Cold compresses and a well fitting bra (not tight) will help to ease discomfort.  Call your doctor for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen to relief swelling and pain.  You can also pump or hand express a little milk out for comfort.  If there is no medical reason for Breastmilk not to be used you can donate your milk to help other babies thrive.  Contact the closest milk bank.

Contact an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant or doctor if your baby will not latch or if you have a fever above 100.6⁰F with chills and flu-like symptoms.

Adapted with Permission from the Foundation for a Breastfeeding Culture