Breast Engorgement Pain- Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
1. What is breast engorgement pain?
Out of all the breast conditions, breast engorgement pain is the most common amongst women. Breast engorgement pain or breast congestion is caused due to increased milk production and blood flow to your breasts after childbirth. Generally, breast engorgement pain occurs in mothers producing more than the required amount of breast milk for the baby. Your breasts and nipples may become tender, swollen, and sore, therefore becoming difficult to breastfeed.
Breast engorgement symptoms may vary from person to person. A gynecologist will look for the following symptoms, such as:
- Swelling and firmness may occur in the breasts and lymph nodes of the armpit.
- Veins on the breast may appear more prominent. This is due to the sudden surge of blood flow in the breast tissues.
- Increased hardness, and tightness of the breast tissues.
- Engorged breasts may feel lumpy and warm to touch.
- The nipples might be extended and straightened due to the weight of the fluid deposit under the areola.
- Some women face mild fever and fatigue while starting breast milk production. This is termed as milk fever. It is recommended to consult a gynecologist if you experience very high body temperature. This may be due to other breast infections that may require immediate treatment. For instance, Mastitis is a condition caused due to the milk being trapped in the tissues. This leads to clogging of breast tissues, recurrent fever, and chills.
It’s understandable to be alarmed when you experience breast congestion. Try not to worry as management of breast engorgement is simple once you identify symptoms and causes.
In any case, it is crucial to seek out proper medical care for breast congestion. Consulting a gynecologist can help you identify your breast engorgement pain. In addition to this, a regular full-body health checkup once a year can help understand the state of your health and the areas that require improvement. You can have an instant consultation with a doctor on MFine, or you can avail of a comprehensive health check-up package or a specific condition-based health package depending on your lifestyle factors, dietary factors, age, and existing medical conditions.
2. What are the breast engorgement causes?
As previously mentioned, breast engorgement pain is the result of excessive blood flow into the breasts post-delivery. This induces increased milk production, which can lead to breast pain and discomfort. To be precise, if breast milk is not drained regularly, the build-up can lead to breast engorgement pain or breast congestion. Most often, breast engorgement causes are due to the following situations:
- Not breastfeeding your baby often
- Not expressing your breast milk when it first comes in
- Creating an overabundance of breast milk
- The duration between each nursing session is too long
- The baby’s difficulty in latching on to your nipples due to its flatness and firmness
- Supplementing your baby with formula between nursing sessions
- Weaning your baby too early
- Nursing a baby when he/ she is sick, as they have may have a stuffy nose or body pain that may pose as a hindrance in the breastfeeding process
It is imperative to understand the causes and signs of breast engorgement pain to effectively treat it. Management of breast engorgement can be easily done at home. However, if you experience persistent breast engorgement symptoms, this may indicate an underlying infection. It is advisable to consult a gynecologist to get an accurate diagnosis of your pain to effectively relieve it.
3. What is the diagnostic evaluation of breast engorgement?
While it’s not a significant cause for concern, it is understandable to be alarmed when you experience breast congestion. Try not to worry as management of breast engorgement is easy once you identify symptoms and causes. If you feel/ notice swelling, firmness, or redness in your breast, talk to a gynecologist to get it examined. The doctor can suggest or provide suitable breast engorgement treatments that can address your breast condition or its underlying cause.
Firstly, the doctor will understand your symptoms by asking questions about your clinical history. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination to get an accurate diagnostic evaluation of breast engorgement. During the examination, the doctor will feel the nature of the breast tissues. The doctor will not require any other invasive diagnostic procedure to diagnose breast engorgement pain.
4. What are the various types of breast engorgement treatment?
If you are wondering how to ease breast engorgement pain, it can be effectively managed and treated at home. If the pain is interfering with your breastfeeding process, consider implementing the following breast engorgement treatment home remedy steps into your routine.
- Nurse your child regularly, or at least once in 1-3 hours per day
- Slowly massage your breasts in a circular motion during your nursing sessions
- Breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry
- Use a warm compress to encourage breast milk drainage
- Use a cold compress to relieve inflammation, redness, swelling, and pain
- Position the baby properly to latch on to your nipple. If your nipple is too firm, soften your areola by expressing a little bit of milk for the baby to latch on easier.
- Alternating your breastfeeding positions to drain out all your breast milk.
- If you can’t nurse due to other commitments, make sure you express your breast milk manually or using a breast pump and store it. This can prevent your breasts from feeling engorged.
- Take over-the-counter medications prescribed by your gynecologist.
While these breast engorgement treatment home remedy steps can be safely practised at home, it is imperative to know about the underlying causes of your condition. Consult a gynecologist on MFine to gain a better understanding of your body and receive quality medical assistance.
Complications of breast engorgement
- Poor breastfeeding latch: Due to the flattened nipples, your baby might struggle to latch on to your nipples correctly.
- Forceful breast milk flow: The overabundance of milk supply can induce a forceful flow from your breasts. If this happens during your nursing session, the baby might gag or choke due to excessive milk.
- Breast refusal: If your baby continues to experience difficulties while breastfeeding, he/ she may start refusing your breast altogether.
- Slow or poor infant weight gain: Your baby might experience a slow or poor weight gain if they refuse to breastfeed due to poor latching or fast flow of breast milk.
- Other breast issues: Persistent breast engorgement pain can lead to other breast issues like mastitis.
Prevention of breast engorgement
If you are wondering how to prevent breast engorgement, you can do so by effectively managing the amount of milk your breasts make and ensuring they are moved out regularly. However, do keep in mind it is completely normal to experience postpartum breast engorgement pain for a few days after childbirth. Your body will need to understand how much milk is required to adjust accordingly. Consider the following tips to prevent breast congestion in the future.
- Breastfeed or express your milk regularly. Your breasts produce milk regularly, regardless of your baby’s nursing schedule. Ensure you nurse your child once in 1-3 hours. If you are away, express your breast milk manually or with a breast pump and store it for later usage.
- Remove small amounts of breast milk regularly. To alleviate any pain or pressure, consider draining out a small amount of milk. Do keep in mind to not drain out all of your milk supply, as your breasts may try to make up for what has been removed.
- Use a cold compress like an ice pack or cold cabbage leaves to relieve inflammation, redness, swelling, and pain around the area. This can also help decrease your breast milk supply.
- Wean slowly. By doing so, your body can adjust to the slow transition from breastfeeding to weaning. Your body will gradually understand the decreased need for breast milk over time.
5. Consulting a doctor for breast engorgement pain
Breast engorgement pain can be effectively managed and treated. The correct diagnosis is the key to receiving appropriate breast engorgement treatment. Based on your medical condition, you will either be:
- Advised to take suitable breast engorgement treatment home remedy steps, or
- Consume over-the-counter pain medications as prescribed by a doctor.
A gynecologist can best diagnose breast congestion and suggest the way forward based on the severity of your condition alongside your body type, dietary factors, and other lifestyle factors. If you face severe breast engorgement symptoms, you must see a gynecologist right away. At MFine, we enable the patients to live a healthier life with modern medical services.
We ensure that the best breast engorgement treatment programs are made available to our patients for every stage of the condition. Get in touch with our team of highly-qualified doctors and healthcare professionals for any medical advice or assistance. We, at MFine, provide you with a holistic healthcare treatment program as per your bodily needs and requirements. You can also check our MFine app for a list of the best gynecology doctors in your city with whom you can chat or video call to get answers for your medical queries!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long does postpartum breast engorgement last?
Postpartum breast engorgement is completely normal and will last for about 2-3 days after childbirth. Breast engorgement pain occurs during this phase because your body is still trying to learn the required level of milk production. It will take a while for your body to understand how much milk is needed for the baby and adjust accordingly. If you experience breast engorgement weeks after your delivery, consult a gynecologist to know about the cause. A doctor will be able to accurately diagnose and provide an appropriate breast engorgement treatment home remedy.
How do you get rid of engorged breasts when not breastfeeding?
If you are not breastfeeding, consider implementing the following breast engorgement pain relief steps:
- Wear bras that provide good support.
- Ensure you only consume pain medicines prescribed by a gynecologist.
- Use a cold compress like an ice pack or cold cabbage leaves to reduce inflammation and swelling.
If your breasts feel very sore, drain out a small amount of breast milk to reduce your breast engorgement pain.
How can you tell the difference between mastitis and breast engorgement pain?
It is imperative to learn the difference between mastitis and breast engorgement pain as it is easily misunderstood. While breast engorgement pain or breast congestion is caused due to increased milk supply and blood flow to your breasts after childbirth, mastitis is the increased inflammation caused due to infection in your breast tissues. Mastitis is more common in 6-8 weeks after delivery. Persistent breast engorgement and blocked milk ducts often lead to developing mastitis.
How do I book an appointment with a gynecologist online?
To schedule an instant medical appointment, download the MFine app, search for a gynecologist online, and enter your contact details. After doing so, you can consult with top gynecologists online from the comfort of your home. You can discuss your health concerns comfortably as MFine takes your privacy very seriously. With a safe and secure platform, we ensure that the discussions between you and your doctor strictly remain confidential.