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Engorgement occurs when a woman's breasts become swollen and painful during lactation. This usually happens in the first few days after her breasts start to fill with milk (lactate), before regular breastfeeding begins. But it can also occur later if breastfeeding slows or stops. The swelling is due to too much milk in the breasts, along with dilated blood vessels. If the breasts become too full, they may feel hard and painful to the touch. It may also be more difficult for the infant to latch on, which can lead to further engorgement. Regular breastfeeding or pumping can help. Wearing a well-fitting bra with proper support and applying cold compresses between feedings can hep. Some women have found relief from anti-inflammatory enzyme agents or enzyme therapy, but ask your doctor before taking any new medication or supplements. "Positive pressure" therapy may be recommended for women with very engorged breasts.
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