Engorgement and sore or cracked nipples are preventable and easy conditions to deal with.
Engorgement is a temporary condition, often
lasting 24 to 48 hours. It occurs when breasts
become very full – even hard and painful – and
are warm to the touch. The nipples and areola
are often swollen and fl attened, and the baby
may have diffi culty latching on. Engorgement
occurs more often in the early days and weeks
of breastfeeding. It is a sign the baby may not
be emptying the breast well or often enough.
Prevention and care
Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after
the birth. Make sure your baby feeds frequently
Do not feed your baby anything other than
breast milk. (If she is fed formula or water, she
won’t take much of your milk and you risk
becoming engorged and making less breast
Heat helps the milk to flow. Stand under a
warm shower or soak a towel in hot water and
and wrap it around your breasts for
about 10 minutes.
While you are in the shower or applying
heat, massage your breasts to move the milk down out of the clogged milk glands.
After massaging, express some of the milk –
just enough to make the nipple and areola soft
so that your baby can latch on more easily.
If your breasts still feel full and sore after
feeding, express some milk to soften the
breasts and then apply cold compresses to the
breasts. (Bags of frozen peas work well!)
Pain medicine taken 20 to 30 minutes before
breastfeeding may help you and won’t harm
This is when nipples crack or are painful to
Prevention and care
Make sure your baby is latching on properly.
Damage to a mother’s nipples is almost
always caused when the baby doesn’t take
enough areola tissue into her mouth.
Rub a small amount of your breast milk into
your nipples after each feed ing to provide
Do not use soap on your nipples and don’t
wash them right before or after a feeding.
Let your nipples air dry for a few minutes
right after feeding.
Change your baby’s position often when
you feed her to avoid putting pressure on one
part of your nipple.
Published in ParentsCanada: Best Wishes, Spring 2012.