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How To Relieve Breast Engorgement Through Massage & More

How To Relieve Breast Engorgement Through Massage & More

Strategies to Relieve Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement is a discomforting experience that many new mothers face, characterised by breasts that feel overly full, painful, and hard. This condition typically arises a few days post-childbirth, attributed to increased blood flow, lymph fluids, and milk production, especially as your baby's feeding patterns evolve.

If you're experiencing symptoms of breast engorgement, don't worry because you are not alone. Breast engorgement is actually a common occurrence and there are a few tips and tricks to help you easily relieve your discomfort.

Gentle Massage to Relieve Engorgement

Breast massage can be a soothing way to relieve breast engorgement, promoting circulation and aiding lymphatic drainage. However, it's important to note that there are different levels of engorgement. For less severe cases, breast massages can help to alleviate the discomfort. But for more severe cases, massage should be avoided, and the guidance of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) should be sought.

How To Massage Engorged Breasts

Here's a simple guide on how to massage breasts to relieve engorgement:

Settle into a comfortable seated position.
  1. Apply breastfeeding-safe oil or lotion to your fingertips.
  2. Using small circular motions, use your fingertips to massage within the areola.
  3. Using circular motions, gently massage all around your engorged breast.
  4. Alternate this circular massage with gentle tapping and kneading motions.
  5. Using long, upward strokes, massage the outer sides of the breasts towards your armpit and the inner sides of the breasts towards the centre of your chest.
  6. Continue massaging for 30-45 minutes per breast for optimal relief.

Use a Warm Compress

Warmth can be very effective in addressing your swelling and discomfort, offering a method for those wondering how to relieve engorgement when not breastfeeding. However, similar to massaging, it is usually not recommended for more severe cases of breast engorgement, and instead, guidance from an IBCLC should be sought.

If you are only experiencing a mild case of breast engorgement, you can prepare a warm compress using a clean washcloth soaked in warm water or a specially designed microwaveable breast pad. Before applying it to your breast, you should ensure the compress is comfortably warm, not hot, to avoid burning your skin. This gentle heat eases the tension in your breasts, providing soothing relief.

Hand Express Milk

Hand expressing milk may help to manage pressure and discomfort while also helping to increase milk supply and regulate production. This technique involves manually expressing milk by massaging the breast tissue and gently pressing down towards the nipple from the base of the breast. In some cases, it can offer immediate relief by reducing the milk's pressure build-up and contributing to a balanced milk supply.

Ensure Proper Latch and Positioning During Nursing

A proper latch may address the risk of engorgement and ensure your baby is feeding efficiently. You should experiment with different nursing positions during your newborn’s feeding times to find the most comfortable latch for you and your little one. You can try cradle, cross-cradle, football, and side-lying positions to see which works best.

Cold Compression for Swelling Relief

For those wondering how to relieve breast engorgement when you’re not breastfeeding, cold compresses offer some relief from swelling. You can use a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth as a safe method for applying cold compression. This method can support inflammation reduction and provide much-needed comfort.

When to Seek Professional Support

Recognising the signs that differentiate normal from severe engorgement is key to receiving the care you require. Here are some symptoms you can look out for to better understand your condition:




  • Breasts feel slightly sore and full
  • Slight increase in the size of the breast


  • Breasts feel sore and full
  • Nipples becoming flat, making it difficult for your baby to latch
  • Breasts feel warm to the touch and tender
  • The skin of your breasts feeling stretched and looking shiny


  • Breasts feel very sore and hard
  • Noticeable increase in the size of the breast
  • Throbbing and aching pain

If you notice persistent pain, it might be time to seek professional guidance from an IBCLC like Hegen Lactation Centre. Driven by our passion to empower mothers, we offer both at-home lactation consultations and online lactation consultations tailored to aid your breastfeeding journey and alleviate engorgement discomforts efficiently.