As a new mother, you may find yourself with new challenges while breastfeeding your baby for the first time. While the experience is surreal, it also brings with it unforeseen situations. Of these, plugged milk ducts are a common condition encountered by many of us.
Blocked or plugged milk ducts are not dangerous. While the blockage can be painful, ignoring the situation can become serious. In this article, we will understand the various facts surrounding the blocked milk ducts while breastfeeding.
What Are Plugged Milk Ducts?
While breastfeeding your baby, you may sometimes feel your breasts getting engorged.
- When your breasts produce more milk than they express, the pile up inside causes your milk ducts to clog.
- As a result, the tissue around the duct can become swollen, inflamed and blocked.
- You will tend to feel a hard lump in your breasts causing a shooting pain or itchiness.
- If you do not deal with the clogged duct situation promptly, the condition can get serious with itchiness, rundown feeling and even fever.
- Your milk ducts can get infected and you will end up suffering with mastitis.
[ Read: How Much Milk Does Baby Need ]
Factors That Cause Plugged Ducts:
Blockage in your milk ducts happens for a simple reason – when the milk does not get expressed frequently. Here are some causes that lead to the delay in expressing:
- Your baby does not latch on properly.
- Your infant is unable to suck effectively because of a wrong breast feeding position.
- You have suddenly weaned your baby off the breast feeding.
- You are wearing a wrong nursing bra that puts an excessive pressure on your lactating breasts.
- A sudden break in feeding your baby in cases of cold and flu.
- Mental stress causes low production of oxytocin hormone that helps in releasing the milk from your breasts.
- A recent breast related surgery.
[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]
5 Ways On How To Clear Blocked Milk Ducts:
Dealing with clogged milk ducts is easy if you are alert and prompt. Here are a few things that you must do to handle the crisis:
1. Keep Nursing Your Baby:
The only way to release the clog is to keep nursing your baby. The more the milk is released, the faster your ducts get unclogged and relieved. This may be quite painful during a plugged duct situation, but nursing is the most effective way.
2. Pump Out The Excess Milk:
In case you have weaned off your baby suddenly or your baby is not in a mood to suckle more, pump out the excess milk using either your hand or the breast pump. Massage the swollen area gently with your hands to produce warmth. This will ease the pumping of the milk, relieving pain.
[ Read: How To Deal With Engorged Breasts ]
3. Change The Nursing Position:
Some time it is all a matter of posture. If your baby is having a tough time to latch on or suckle comfortably, try changing the feeding positions as much as you can. You will hit the right position eventually where it all works out and your milk is expressed.
4. Pain Medication No-No:
Unless you are in extreme pain (in which case you should be at the hospital!), do not take any self-diagnosed medication. Any medicine you consume gets expressed in your milk and hence the caution. However, you can take a mild ibuprofen or a prescribed equivalent from your doctor.
5. Rest and Relaxation:
After you have dealt with the crisis and the clog has been cleared, it is best to take a break. Hand over your baby to someone who can take care while you catch some sleep. A power nap should ideally throw you back into normalcy.
[ Read: Is It Safe To Breastfeed With The Flu ]
In case you have tried all the options and still there is no outlet, contact your doctor immediately. A clogged duct situation should not be left unattended for long.
If you encounter this situation frequently, identify the prime factors that lead to the same. Being alert wins half the battle. Happy nursing!
Do share your views and experiences with us.
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