Breastfeeding Issue with Blocked Milk Duct
April 13, 2022
Blocked Milk Ducts
- Plugged ducts are common condition in breastfeeding. A plugged (or blocked) duct is an area of the breast where milk flow is obstructed. A blocked duct usually comes on gradually & effects only one breast. This condition happens most often in the first six to eight weeks postpartum, but it can occur at any time during breastfeeding
- Symptoms of plugged ducts
- Plugged duct symptoms progress gradually, and can include pain, a hard lump, a warm and painful localized spot or a wedge-shaped area of engorgement on the breast.
- A blocked breast duct may appear as a tender lump the size of a pea or larger, and occasionally presents with a small white blister on the nipple. The breast may be sensitive and the tender lump may or may not be palpable with defined margins, the area should emit little or no heat, and occur without either redness or fever (< 38.4 °C). The baby may be fussy when feeding from the affected breast, since the milk flow rate from the breast may be reduced. The mom’s general state of health is not affected by blocked ducts. A plugged duct will typically feel more painful before a feeding & less tender & lumpy afterwards.
- There are usually no systemic symptoms for a plugged duct, but a low fever (less than 101.3 F/ 38.5 C) may be present
What causes a clogged milk duct?
- Clogged ducts aren’t uncommon, and they ultimately form when milk isn’t emptied from your breast the way it should be. That can happen if:
- Your baby is having trouble latching or sucking. Both can cause her to take in less milk.
- You miss or skip feedings or pumping sessions. Sometimes it’s just the result of forgetting or having your baby sleep through her normal feeding time. But clogs can also happen because of abrupt changes in feeding schedules, like going back to work or weaning too quickly.
- Your baby is in the . Being separated from your baby means you may not be able to nurse as often.
- Wearing too-tight bra or clothes.Both can restrict the flow of milk.
- Engorgement or inadequate milk removal(due to latching problems, tongue-tie or other anatomical variations, nipple pain, sleepy or distracted baby, oversupply, hurried feedings, limiting baby’s time at the breast, nipple shield use, twin or higher order multiples, blocked nipple pore, etc.
- Inflammation (from injury, bacterial/yeast infection, or allergy).
- Stress, fatigue, anemia, weakened immunity
What is an Effective Clogged Milk Duct Treatment?
- Adequate fluids
- Nutritious foods will help to strengthen mom’s immune system
- Heat applied to the breast before feeding to better empty the breast, which can be applied by filling a disposable diaper with warm water, squeezing out the excess water and placing it on the breast
- Fully emptying the breast during each feeding through frequent feeding, hand expression, or pumping or feeding in different positions
- Nurse on the affected breast first; if it hurts too much to do this, switch to the affected breast directly after let-down.
- Massage, emptying breasts often by hand expression, frequent feeding, and pumping and feeding. Massage from the plugged area toward the nipple.
- Therapeutic breast massage taught by a certified lactation consultant
- Try nursing while leaning over baby (sometimes called “dangle feeding“) so that gravity aids in dislodging the plug.
- Use cold compresses between feedings for pain & inflammation
If the issue persists, check with a healthcare provider for additional treatment options.