Breastfeeding comes with rewards galore (for you and your baby), but nursing moms may also need to contend with uncomfortable related ailments from time to time. Engorged breasts is one of the most common.
Although it's normal for your breasts to get larger, heavier, and even a bit tender (due to extra blood and lymph fluids in the breast tissue) between the second and fifth day after giving birth, breasts should start to feel softer -- even with milk production in full-gear -- within the first two to three weeks. But engorgement, which is caused by the volume of milk exceeding the capacity to store it, can cause breasts to become hard and painful. You may also notice breast swelling, tenderness, warmth, redness, throbbing, flattening of the nipple, or low-grade fever. Research from The Cochrane Collaboration found that engorgement can actually prevent women from breastfeeding in the first place, cause them to give it up, or lead to infection, such as mastitis.