What to do when newborn baby has swollen breasts?

December 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Baby Problems

Newborn-baby-swollen-breastA swollen breast is a common condition observed in babies, both male and female. Commonly seen that one or both the breast are swollen, firm and lumpy after a week of birth. Although this condition may seem abnormal, the swollen breasts usually shrink within a few weeks or months of life. The new parents will be worried at the sight of swollen breasts.

Causes of a swollen breast in a newborn baby

Mother’s hormones

Swelling of breast happens because of the hormones the baby receives from the mother during pregnancy. While the baby is in the womb, the baby is exposed to variations of hormones that a mother produces during pregnancy. These hormones are passed along to the baby and remain within the baby after birth.  These changes are triggered by hormones that travel throughout her bloodstream, through the placenta and to the baby via the umbilical cord.

After delivery when there is no more exposure to the hormones, the breast tissue will begin to shrink and become flat. This may take days and weeks. A milky substance called “witches milk” may leak from the nipples but will cease after a few days or weeks.

Breast feeding

Breast feeding also contribute to the baby’s breasts swelling due to the continuation of the mother’s hormones passing to the baby. While breast feeding may also contribute to prolonged breast enlargement and baby milk production, temporary or permanent weaning is not recommended.

Also read: 8 Top Tips to Keep your Newborn Baby Clean and Healthy

Breast buds

Swollen breasts in babies can contribute due to breast buds or lumps under the nipples. These lumps are mature breast tissue that can even secrete milk. Breast buds can occur in both male and female babies and will diminish over the first few months of life.


If the breast or nipple looks red, tender or has a colored discharge other than a milky substance and the baby has a fever, a pediatrician should examine the baby for infection. Be alert and observe any redness and pain for the baby.

Parents are advised not to squeeze or massage the swollen breasts, for this will only cause irritation and may lead to an infection. Swollen breasts in newborn babies is not a problem and will become less noticeable as your baby changes and grows.

Also read: Can I Continue to Breastfeed my Baby when I’m Back from Work?

Cultural differences

In India, the new mom is advised to squeeze or press the nipple during massage to remove the milk that is accumulated. General understanding by daimas is that if the milk is not removed, it will lead to larger breast and chest which can be a bother to your personality as you grow up and are in your teens. Usually observed in stout boys.

Elders in the family also insists to continue removing the milk for a week’s time. It will be done gently to ensure baby does not have pain.

However Pediatricians insist that the baby’s breast are not pressed, leave them alone and allow nature take its course in shrinking them.

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