Breast engorgement

Breast engorgement is the overfilling of the breasts with milk. This can happen when milk isn't being removed well from the breasts by breastfeeding, pumping, or expressing by hand. Severely engorged breasts become increasingly hard, swollen, and tender. The nipples and areolae can become hard and flattened, making it difficult for a baby to latch on to the breast properly.

A mother with a regular breastfeeding routine can become engorged if she cannot nurse or pump as much as usual or suddenly stops breastfeeding. A mother who doesn't begin breastfeeding after childbirth will have several days of mild to moderate breast engorgement. This gradually goes away when the breasts aren't stimulated to produce more milk.

Severe breast engorgement can cause a slight fever and tender lymph nodes in the armpits. Without treatment, severe engorgement can lead to blocked milk ducts and breast infection (mastitis).

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.