Breast Engorgement: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Breast engorgement, also known as mastitis, is a common condition that occurs when the breasts become excessively full, swollen, and painful. The condition is usually associated with breastfeeding, but it can also occur in non-nursing women. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment of breast engorgement.

Causes of Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement usually occurs when the breasts are not properly drained of milk. This may happen due to a variety of reasons, such as:

1. Inadequate Breastfeeding: Inadequate breastfeeding or missing breastfeeding sessions can cause the milk to accumulate in the breasts, leading to engorgement.

2. Newborn Sleep Patterns: Newborns tend to sleep for long hours, and if they go longer between feedings, this can cause engorgement in the mother.

3. Oversupply of Milk: Some women may produce more milk than their baby needs, causing their breasts to become engorged.

4. Weaning: When a mother abruptly stops breastfeeding, it can cause severe engorgement.

Symptoms of Breast Engorgement

The symptoms of breast engorgement are generally easy to identify. They include:

1. Swollen and tender breasts.

2. Firm, hard, and lumpy breasts.

3. Painful and sensitive nipples.

4. Redness and warmth on the breasts.

5. Difficulty in latching.

Treatment of Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement is treatable, and the following steps can help alleviate the symptoms:

1. Breastfeed Frequently: Frequent breastfeeding can help drain the milk from the breasts, relieving the engorgement.

2. Massage and Warm Compress: Gently massaging the breasts and applying warm compresses can help to soften the breasts and ease the discomfort.

3. Pump If Necessary: If the baby is not able to empty the breasts, pumping can help to relieve the engorgement.

4. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relief medication can be taken to alleviate the pain.

5. Cabbage Leaves: Placing cabbage leaves over the breasts can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

6. Consider a Lactation Consultant: If engorgement or pain persists, consider seeing a lactation consultant who can offer customized advice and support.

In conclusion, breast engorgement is a common condition that can occur during or after breastfeeding. It is a treatable condition that requires frequent breastfeeding, massage and warm compresses, pumping if necessary, pain relief, cabbage leaves, and lactation consultation if needed. If you experience any of the symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice from a healthcare provider.

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