When you experience milk "let down" approximately two to three days postpartum, the breasts will suddenly become very heavy, swollen, painful and hot. This condition is known as "breast engorgement" and is a combination of congestion of the blood vessels and glandular congestion from milk production. The breasts will become softer and less congested after the first week or two following delivery. Your body will produce sufficient quantities of milk to meet your baby's changing needs. We encourage you to continue with prenatal vitamins as long as you are breastfeeding.
Breast infections are common in breastfeeding moms. The infection is caused by the bacteria in the baby's mouth entering the breast. The baby is in no danger of becoming infected. If either breast should become red, swollen, tender or hot, associated with an elevated temperature, please call our office. It is important to continue feeding the baby from the affected breast, as the prescribed antibiotics will be much more effective if the breasts are emptied. If breastfeeding becomes extremely uncomfortable, use manual expression to empty the breast.
When you plan to wean the baby, decrease feedings gradually. There is no effective medication available to prevent the breast engorgement. If engorgement should occur, the following instructions to bottle-feeding mothers will be helpful to you.