4 Unexpected Causes Of Swollen Breasts In Newborns

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Swollen breasts in newborns is a common finding often noticed by parents or caregivers within a few days after birth. Slight swelling in the breast area is not a cause for concern, and this is due to the effects of increased levels of estrogen hormones in pregnancy for maternal breast enlargement (1)

Usually, this swelling disappears after two weeks of life when the hormones disappear in the baby’s body (2). Read on to know more about swollen breasts in newborns.

Hormonal Changes In Babies

Swollen breasts are a common concern for parents of newborns, but it’s normally nothing serious (2).

  • The swollen breasts can, at times, produce a milk-like liquid. Do not be alarmed as this can be normal. Also, do not squeeze the nipples to try and get the milk out. If you just leave it alone, it will resolve on its own (3).
  • This swollen breast happens because the mother’s hormones are passed to the newborn baby before delivery.
  • Swollen breasts appear within a few days after the delivery and will disappear within a few weeks but can take up to a few months to completely go away.

Causes Of Swollen Breasts In Newborns

Many parents may get tensed by seeing the swollen breasts in infants, but once the cause for these swollen breasts is known, you will feel relaxed (4) (5).

  1. Typically in a pregnant woman, there are many changes happening physically and mentally as well. You can notice changes in the breast during your entire pregnancy.
  1. In the final days of your pregnancy, you can see such changes a lot; this is due to your body preparing itself for breastfeeding your baby.
  1. These hormonal changes are passed to the infant also and the same effect is seen in them.
  1. When a baby is in the mother’s womb, he or she absorbs many hormones from the mother’s blood. But after the baby is born, this regular supply of chemicals is cut off. Due to this, certain hormonal changes happen in the babies, which are generally temporary in nature.

Tips For Concerned Parents

It can be worrying for the parents to see these changes in their newborn baby’s body. Always check check with your doctor if you are unsure. Here are some general do’s and don’ts to follow at home.

  • Some parents try to pinch the swollen area too much and see if that will help in reducing the swollen breast, but that will cause irritation to the newborn babies (6). Avoid doing this.
  • Since this is not a serious problem, give it some time to shrink naturally. This will disappear around the 5th week of the baby’s birth.
  • Do not massage or touch the swollen area too many times. All you should do is just wash them cleanly during the bath. Too much massage or pinching the swollen area can cause infection.

When You Should Consult A Doctor

As discussed earlier, swollen breasts in newborn are not worrisome since they will shrink naturally in a few weeks. However, you should consult a doctor in the following cases:

  • If the swollen breast appears red
  • If your baby has a high fever along with a swollen breast
  • If the swelling is increasing everyday

As parents, it is normal to worry about anything that seems unusual for your infant. Swollen breasts in newborns are usually caused due to the effect of the high estrogen environment while inside the womb or during birth. It subsides within a few weeks of life and is not a cause of concern. However, avoid pinching or massaging the area even if there is whitish liquid discharge, and clean them during bath. Also, if the swelling increases or is accompanied by redness or fever, seek a suggestion from a pediatrician.


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Jessica Albert

Jessica Albert is a passionate writer who seeks to connect with her readers through wit and charm. Her work aims to invoke curiosity and keep the readers engaged through and through. She has prior experience working with magazines and e-commerce establishments as a content marketer and editor. Being a mother herself, she puts all her knowledge into creating content about... more

Dr. Wayne Hough

(MBChB, MMed, FC Paeds)
Dr. Wayne Hough is a pediatrician currently based in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town in South Africa. He got his medical degree from the University of Stellenbosch. He then worked at the Tygerberg Children's Hospital before completing his pediatric training and qualification from the South African College of Medicine. Dr. Hough also holds a MMed degree in pediatrics from... more