Breast engorgement is an overfilling of breasts with milk. This is normal during the first few days after delivery (2-5 days) when your milk supply comes in and when feeding schedules are more erratic. However, if engorgement is not addressed, it can become painful for the mother.
The mother’s body produces breast milk in a supply-and-demand manner. The body produces breast milk based on the signals it receives from the baby’s breastfeeding or pumping. If the mother does not feed her baby frequently, either by breastfeeding or pumping, engorgement will occur. This tends to happen when the mother skips feedings, waits too long between feedings, or does not feed to express enough milk out. Also, abruptly stopping breastfeeding can cause engorgement.
Engorged breasts tend to feel hard, stiff, and, sometimes, like there are rocks inside. The breast may feel tender, sensitive, and have some reddish areas. The areola is also hard instead of soft, as it should be. Some mothers may suffer from low grade fevers.