If your breast happens to produce milk faster than it is been expressed, this could be a sign that its duct is backed up. When that happens, the tissues around the breast-duct may become inflamed, swollen and pressed on the breast duct, thus resulting to blockage. This condition is what brings about milk duct clogging.
Signs that you might have a clogged breast duct
- Breast reddening
- Having a small, hard lump which is sore to touch, or a very tender spot on your breast
- Feeling a hot, swelling sensational that only feels better after nursing
- You may feel feverish, achy, and rundown
If you experience some of these signs and symptoms it might be an indication of a clogged breast duct, which might be end up being infected and you ought to make a point of consulting your doctor. If you leave it undiagnosed, the clogged duct may develop into mastitis, so please don’t take it for assume it and decide to move on with life.
Clogged ducts may be as a result from your breast being not completely emptied off the milk on frequent basis. Circumstances that may bring about clogging of the breast ducts include;
- If you are using a pump that is not powerful enough
- If you have a cold. Such illness may make you not to pump milk, or even breast your baby frequently, thus resulting to clogging
- If you have abruptly weaned your child
- If your baby has feeding problems as result of improper latch, or is not feeding often enough
- If you have undergone breast surgery, e.g. breast biopsy. The operated area may hinder milk drainage hence resulting to blocking of the duct
- Also a duct may be damaged or compressed because of the pressure from sleeping on your stomach or a nursing bra that does not fit you. This may entrap milk causing duct blockage
- If you are under stress. Stress inhibits production of oxytocin which is the hormone that enables you breast to produce milk.
For you to prevent clogging of the ducts, evade long period between feeding your baby. Ensure your nursing bra fits you well and does not have the underwire, which can compress your milk ducts.
How to Treat a Clogged Duct
Nurse your baby as much as it wants! It may be hurting to nurse on the affected breast but it is crucial to ensure that you breast is completely drained hence leaving you being more comfortable as the inflammation will reduce. Once the duct is unblocked, the breast may still be red or have the tender feeling for almost a week or more. It’s important to have in mind that the lump will disappear. Here are some tips that may help:
- Begin with the sore breast: If it is not very painful, nurse it on the sides clogged duct first. This is because your little one sucks strongest at the start and that might be help dislodge the blockage. If the baby does not want to nurse enough in order to empty the breast on the affected side, use your hand or a pump to express the milk.
- Massage: Health experts also advice that you massage the sore part firmly and frequently, starting on the outside of your breast and working out your way towards the nipple. Applying warm compresses prior to nursing may help open up the duct and relieve swelling and pain.
- Change your nursing position: E.g, if you are using the cradle hold, try nursing lying down or the football hold. This helps to ensure that all ducts are well-drained. Position your little one at your breast with his/her chin pointed towards the sore spot, and then have him/her latch on and start nursing. This will direct suction at the blocked duct.
- Drink water and eat well: Put more focus on your body’s immune system, and drink as much water as possible in order to stay hydrated.
- Consider medication. Ibuprofen can help relieve inflammation and pain. Ask your lactation consultant or doctor before taking any medicine when you are breastfeeding, even if it is an “over-the-counter” drug.
- Cold and hot: Some mums rely on hot packs while others prefer a cooling pad to ease discomfort and pain. See which offer you with the ideal relief.