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How to Soothe Engorged Breasts

Updated on February 4, 2009

Many women experience breast engorgement. It can happen when you’re just starting to breastfeed, ready to stop breastfeeding or somewhere along the way. Breast engorgement is usually a temporary challege. Thankfully, there are many simple ways to get relief from this very painful and annoying condition. Remember that breast engorgement will pass. Make yourself as comfortable as possible until it does.

Feed the Baby

If you’re still breastfeeding when engorgement occurs, the best way to relieve your pain is by feeding your baby frequently. However, this can be challenging if the breast is so full that baby is having a hard time latching on. In that case, express enough milk to soften the nipple before you try feeding the baby.

Cabbage Leaves

This veggie is the traditional cure, but you can actually use anything cold and flexible. Refrigerated, damp cloths also work well. Wrap the breast and try to relax. 

Expressing Milk

Try this one in the shower if you can – the warm water helps the milk ‘let down’. Express just enough milk to relieve fullness, but be careful that you’re not stimulating too much or you’ll only encourage more production.


Again, this is best done in a warm shower or bath. Gently massage lumps in the breast to relieve discomfort. Key word: GENTLY!


Check with your doctor, but a lot of times they will suggest a mild pain reliever to get some relief. Of course, this does nothing to treat the problem, but at least you won’t have to suffer quite so much while your breasts are adjusting.

Some Don'ts

Never bind breasts. Contrary to popular myth, it does not help your milk to dry up. It can cause infections and plugged mild ducts.

Some women say not to eat oatmeal when you have too much milk. 

Don't expect breasts to go back to normal in a hurry.  


Common Sense Medical Disclaimer

Just in case you wonder, I'm not a doctor or any other kind of medical expert. I am just an experienced mother. Information contained in this article is intended as an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatment. It is not a substitute for a medical exam, nor does it replace the need for services provided by medical professionals. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any prescription or over the counter drugs (including any herbal medicines or supplements) or following any treatment or regimen. Only your doctor or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for you.

Image Credit: net_efekt, Flickr


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