7 Tips to Relieve Engorgement

Last week, I demystified the phenomenon of engorgement and advised mothers to increase the frequency without limiting the duration of feedings. If despite this, there is still engorgement, here are 7 tips to counter the phenomenon.


  1. When the engorgement is in the areola, the areola can be softened to help the baby position itself well.

This can be done by extracting a little milk (by hand or with a breast pump) or by doing an areolar counter-pressure*. The tissues then regain a flexibility that helps the child to take a larger part of the areola. To help even more, you can do the "sandwich grip", i.e. hold the breast close to the areola with the hand in C as if you were holding a sandwich to put it in the baby's mouth.

2- When the engorgement is in the breast, we can extract a little milk to soften the tissues.

This is not to try to "empty" the breast, but just to remove the discomfort created by the engorgement. Manual extraction can be sufficient and very effective.

3- To treat inflammation, cold (applied to the breast) between feedings is recommended.

However, heat can be used (either as a compress or in the shower) before a feeding to facilitate milk flow. Thus, you can immerse the breasts in a bowl of warm to hot water (tolerable temperature so as not to burn yourself) or massage them before breastfeeding. Certain positions will promote the flow of milk, such as the position of the wolf (on all fours above the baby).

4- It is important to wear bras that are flexible and not too tight.

Beware of bras with underwire, they are not recommended.

5- It is essential to continue breastfeeding to avoid a drop in production or the aggravation of symptoms.

Symptoms should disappear within 24 to 48 hours if treated quickly, otherwise it can last 7 to 14 days.

6- A painkiller and anti-inflammatory can be taken by the mother to relieve pain if other strategies are not sufficient.

If the symptoms persist, it is important to consult.

7- Finally, relaxation and rest can help by promoting the secretion of oxytocin and therefore the let-down reflex.

Obviously, prevention is important to avoid any complication or recurrence. Breastfeeding when awake, on demand and not limited, so frequent and effective feedings, especially the first days of life, are recommended. Now that the hospital stay has been shortened, engorgements often occur when the mother is left alone at home. It is therefore important that all women be taught manual extraction before leaving the hospital, have information on how to manage engorgement and that they know the resources in case of difficulty: the CLSC nurse, a peer lactation counselor or an IBCLC lactation consultant. Prevention is better than cure!!!

And you, how did you relieve engorgement?

It only remains for me to wish you a Happy Holiday Season, surrounded by your loved ones and without engorgement!

Marie-Caroline Bergouignan

IBCLC lactation consultant




 Références :

–       Breastfeeding and human lactation de Jan Riordan et Karen Wambach, 2010

–       Breastfeeding management for the clinician de Marsha Walker, 2011

–       Breastfeeding answers made simple de Nancy Mohrbacher, 2010

–       Breastfeeding, a guide for the medical profession de Ruth A. Lawrence et Robert M. Lawrence, 2011


This text by Marie-Caroline Bergouignan, Lactation Consultant, IBCLC, was sponsored by Momzelle inc.

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