It is normal for your breasts to get bigger and heavier, hotter and more uncomfortable as your milk supply increases (“about”) 2-5 days after giving birth. It rarely lasts more than 24 hours. With normal fullness, the breast and areola (the darkest area around the nipple) remain soft and elastic, milk flow is normal, and latching is not affected.
When does it occur?
Engorgement typically begins on the 3rd to 5th day after birth, and subsides within 12-48 hours if properly treated (7-10 days without proper treatment).
How does the breast feel?
The breast will typically feel hard, with tightly stretched skin that may appear shiny, and you may experience warmth, tenderness, and/or throbbing. The engorgement can extend to the armpits.
How does the areola feel?
The areola is often hard (like the tip of a nose or forehead) rather than soft (like an earlobe), with tight skin that can appear shiny. Nipples can increase in diameter and become flat, tight, and difficult to latch on.
Continue reading to learn ways to manage engorgement.
If you need support with engorgement please reach out to an IBCLC.
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