It is important to distinguish between pathologic engorgement and the physiologic engorgement that occurs in the first days after birth. Pathologic engorgement is often times caused by bad breastfeeding management, which means infrequent or inadequate feedings. Your breast (or both) becomes hard, full and tender. It may feel warm and you might feel miserable. It is possible that you might be running a temperature.
The first goal is it to reduce the engorgement so your baby can feed effectively at the breast. As soon as your baby is able to suck effectively, your breast will be emptied and softened. If your baby will not breastfeed or is not breastfeeding long enough to relief the engorgement, you should either hand express or use a breastpump to remove the milk. Your lactation specialist can inform you about breastpumps and hand expression. Apply moist heat before feeding or expressing and use gentle massage to stimulate your milk ejection reflex. Cold compresses after breastfeeding or expressing will help to relieve pain and swelling.
Prompt treatment is the key to avoid possible complications.
Mastitis describes a situation of an inflammation of the mammary gland or the breast tissue. Mastitis can be caused by internal or external pressure that leads to a milk stasis in the breast. That means that mastitis can develop from engorgement. If you have a hot and red area of the breast, if your breast feels tender in a certain area and if you feel generally bad with flue-like symptoms, headache, and fever immediately turn to your health care professional.
Mastitis needs prompt treatment.
You need a lot of rest and adequate medication. Frequent breastfeeding or expressing of the milk is crucial. Abrupt weaning or temporary interruption of breastfeeding can delay healing or cause further complications.