Breasts become engorged when they become overfilled with breast milk. If you wait too long to pump when your breast milk comes in or you're trying to wean your babies to formula, you might experience this uncomfortable and sometimes painful sensation. You can ease the pain, pressure and discomfort in a variety of ways.
Symptoms of Engorgement
It is hard to miss the symptoms of engorgement. Your breasts will feel swollen and firm. If they are severely engorged, they might be shiny, warm, hard and slightly lumpy. Your nipples might flatten out, you might run a slight fever and your lymph nodes in your armpits might be tender and swollen. In the latter case, seek medical attention to relieve the symptoms.
You can gradually reduce some of the milk pressure in your breasts to ease your engorgement woes. Use a breast pump, hand express or nurse your baby a bit to remove some of the breast milk. If you want to stop making breast milk, only express or nurse long enough to relieve the pressure and feel comfortable again.
Cool Them Down
Applying cold compresses, ice packs, gel packs or frozen bags of vegetables to your engorged breasts can help reduce swelling and ease your pain a bit. Wrap the packs in a dishtowel to make it more comfortable and to prevent over-chilling this delicate area of your body. Use these for 10 minutes at a time.
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication, including ibuprofen, can alleviate some of the symptoms that come with engorged breasts. Consult your health care provider for a recommendation, especially if you are bottle-feeding and breast-feeding. Always check the medications instructions on the package for frequency and dose information.