For many mothers that are breastfeeding, they go through a lot. The truth is that many conditions arise when a mother starts breastfeeding. Likewise, some of these conditions are very common, while some of them are quite rare. Well, among the common ones, we have a clogged milk duct. This is also commonly known as clogged milk ducts. This happens when lumps form in the milk ducts. The lumps that form are tender and they usually obstruct the normal flow of milk in the breast. Some many signs and symptoms come with this condition which we will be looking at later. Also, we will be looking at clogged milk duct treatment.
Let’s first have a brief overview of how the breast is structured. So the breast is made up of different ducts. And the job of these ducts is to carry milk to the nipples. So when there is clogging of the duct it causes a problem with regards to breastfeeding of the child. It usually comes with swelling, itching, and sometimes pain. That’s quite hard to deal with especially if you are breastfeeding a child. What exactly could be the cause of this condition? Well, few are known and we will be taking a look at them later on.
Causes and Symptoms of Clogged Breast
There are a few known causes of this condition. And some of these causes are:
- Breast engorgement: This happens when there is a buildup of breast milk in the breasts. This causes the blocking of the milk ducts. Breast engorgement commonly happens in women that don’t breastfeed as often as they should. And usually, this happens more when the baby starts to sleep a lot more at night.
- Incorrect breastfeeding latch: latching on to your breast that your baby does have a lot of effect on the breast. If your baby latches well then he would be able to suck the milk out of the ducts. But with poor latching, there would be poor drainage of breast milk from the breast. And that in itself can lead to clogging of the milk ducts.
- Excessive supply of milk: For some women, they have an abundant supply of breastmilk. The thing though is that when it’s too much it could cause engorgement of the breast. And this, in the end, would lead to clogging of the ducts.
- Pressure on the breast: One way that excessive pressure is being applied on the breast is with clothing and underwear. If your clothing and underwear are too tight then you can expect that there would be a lot of pressure on the breast. And this can also lead to the clogging of the ducts in the breast.
- Exercise: Another interesting cause of plugged ducts is doing vigorous exercises. Most especially if it has to do with the upper part of the body.
- Other causes: There are also times that the clogging of the ducts has nothing to do with the breast or breastfeeding. This implies that the cause of the problem is from another source which might have nothing to do with the breast.
Some of the common symptoms that come with the clogged duct are:
- A tender lump in the breast
- Slow milk flow
- Pain in the breast
- Swelling of the breasts
- Milk bleb
On some very rare occasions, this can cause fever in the patient. The presence of fever is indicative of a breast infection. If you have breast pain together with fever, then you should see a doctor as soon as you can.
Clogged Milk Duct Treatment
So there are different treatment options for clogged milk duct. But it’s dependent on the exact cause of the condition. That’s why a proper diagnosis is needed for an effective treatment. Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the treatment options available.
- Proper latching of your baby. Make sure that your baby is correctly latching onto the breast. You might want to go see a doctor that would help out with this.
- Keep breastfeeding. The treatment for a clogged milk duct isn’t stopping breastfeeding. It’s to keep breastfeeding. When you keep breastfeeding this can help improve milk flow.
- Apply heat. This is one thing you can try out to help unclog the duct. You can apply the heat just before breastfeeding. With this, it would improve the let-down reflex. And then there would be proper flow of milk through the ducts.
- Try to unclog the ducts manually. This can be done using hand expression or using a breast pump. Try as much as you can to get the milk out of the breast. Make sure you empty the breast. This would help free the clogged duct.
- Stay hydrated. Hydration would help out a bit when it comes to this. And make sure that you’re getting enough rest.
Prevention as they say is better than a cure. This saying is true in every applicable situation just like here. So one thing you can do to prevent things is to make sure your baby sucks your breast regularly. For a baby, it would take about 15-30 mins before the breast would get completely drained. Make sure that you are patient enough to wait while your baby does this.
There are a few other things that can be done to prevent clogged milk ducts. And they are:
- Not wearing tight-fitted clothes and bra
- Breastfeeding regularly on demand
- Regularly change breastfeeding positions
- Stay hydrated
- Avoiding too much pressure on the breast, such as sleeping on your stomach
- Get enough rest
- Avoid consuming saturated fats
For women that produce too much milk, you might want to go see a doctor. A doctor would be able to advise you on how you can reduce the excessive supply of breastmilk. With this, you would be able to reduce the risk of having a clogged milk duct.