How to tackle blocked ducts during breastfeeding

A plugged milk duct may be a common downside throughout breastfeeding. If you notice a small tender, and even red bump (or lump) on one in every one of your breasts, don’t panic. What you’ve most likely got maybe a plugged milk duct — not cause for panic however positively cause for action. Before we discuss How to tackle blocked ducts during breastfeeding we should know what actually this problem is and what causes this problem.

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What is a blocked duct during breastfeeding?

The ducts in your breasts are the complex network of canals. These canals carry milk from the tissues where it’s made to your nipple. Same way milk ducts are individual straws that all end at the tip of your nipple and deliver milk into your baby’s mouth.
When we talk about blocked ducts it can simply mean that straw which delivers milk to the baby is jammed due to some reason. Now it’s not possible to pass milk from that duct. You may develop a lump in your breast, with a red, painful, swollen and tender patch on the skin. The tissue around the patch will be swollen and inflamed and will press on the duct.
You can simply relate this with a pipe of water which is closed from end opening point with hand and water is on. Now water can’t go what it will do? It will neoplasm the pipe due to pressure.

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To know more about your breast check the following the picture and try to understand the natural structure of your breast.

What is a blocked duct during breastfeeding

Anatomy of the breast

What causes the ducts in breasts to become blocked?

The main reason for blocked ducts is remaining milk in your breast. Yes, when your baby does not drain your breasts fully some milk remain in your breast which leads to blockage of breast ducts. Most of the cases this occurs in the early weeks of breastfeeding after baby’s birth.

If you are making milk faster than your baby can consume it, Then the milk is forced to come out of the duct and into the tissue of your breast. This causes swelling, turning the affected part of your breast red, warm, lumpy and painful.

This blockage of ducts is not true, Means it can be prevented easily if we follow some natural tips (we will discuss them in the article) But truly blocked ducts are rarer. In truly blocked ducts you may, you may notice a small white spot (bleb) at the end of your nipple. This is a sign that the opening of the duct has become blocked by skin cells growing over it, preventing milk from escaping.

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Do blocked ducts affect Baby?

Well, This question is very common which comes in mom’s mind. Well, A blocked duct only slow the flow of milk in the affected breast than usual. Taste of milk may also differ, due to inflammation. You baby will feel unsettled when feeding on that breast, But don’t worry Blocked ducts doesn’t affect Baby’s health in any way.

Should I stop breastfeeding from that breast with blocked ducts?

Definitely not. Avoiding or limiting feeding on the affected breast can actually make matters worse, causing more milk to back up and compound the clog. Remember, the best treatment for a blocked duct is to get the milk flowing again. Keep breastfeeding your baby if you can, even if it’s uncomfortable. It will help you to get better faster, as your baby will drain your breast. Feed as often as possible and make sure there aren’t long gaps between feeds. This may sometimes mean waking your baby for a feed.

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Natural Treatment for Blocked Milk Duct

Some of the steps of these treatments are little weird But keep in mind this problem is related to your health. Health is everything, So don’t feel weird while trying this treatment. That is sure these treatments will help you to a great extent without any harm.

Without treatment, a plugged duct can lead to a breast infection or worse, so take these steps to get the milk flowing again.

  1. Take a hot shower and massage breast tissue.
  2. Mix 2-3 drops of Lavender essential oil (easily available in the market) with 1 tsp of any oil (coconut, mustered). Massage around the entire breast, up into the armpit, with a special focus on blocked duct area.
  3. Once the Lavender oil has absorbed, apply thinly sliced organic potatoes to your breast with blocked ducts. Place them all around the breast, and put on a bra to hold the potato in place. You can also “grate” the potatoes. Yes, it will work more effectively if you heat up potato before placing. Leave on for at least 1 hour. Replace with fresh potatoes as needed.

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Some important tips while breastfeeding you must follow these :

  1. Empty the breast: Give your baby the affected breast first (though if that’s too painful, you can start with the other one) and make sure baby drains the breast thoroughly at each feeding (Note: don’t pull baby off too quickly). If your baby isn’t doing a good enough job on his own, finish the task by pumping until the milk comes out in slow drips instead of a steady stream.
  2. Loosen it up a bit: Sometimes blocked ducts are aggravated by external pressure (e.g., from a too-tight shirt or bra). Make sure your bra is snug but not binding.
  3. Nursing technique: This is a very important part of this natural treatment for blocked milk ducts.
    • Lay baby on a blanket on floor or bed.
    • Get on your hands and knees above baby (bridge pose), and gently drop to your elbows.
    • Put your hanging breast nipple down directly into the mouth of a baby. This position has gravity working for you. Try to point baby’s chin to the blocked duct, as this has the greatest force.
  4. Use your baby as a masseuse: Depending on where the plugged duct is, you can position your baby so that his chin massages the lump as you nurse.

Important Tip 1: Ask you are a wonderful husband to breastfeed on the affected breast in the same position as told above. They can suck much harder than your baby. and chances of un-blockage of ducts increases if the breast is sucked hard.

Important Tip 2: You can also use a vibrator on blocked ducts breast. This also can help you to a good extent.

Important Tip 3: If you get in the bath and take a hot wash-cloth and put it over your blocked nipple for as long as you can tolerate. Sometimes a little white dot will appear on your nipple where the clog is. It might be very tiny so you have to really look for it. Once you find the white dot, gently squeeze it like a pimple and the clog will release.

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How can you ease the pain of blocked ducts?

If feeding hurts too much, you could try using a breast pump to express your milk. An electric breast pump will be quicker than a hand pump. Use the pump as many times a day as your baby needs to feed. Pump each breast twice, for as long as your milk is flowing, and until the flow slows down.

Other ways you can take to ease your symptoms :

1. Varying feeding positions, for example, feeding your baby under your arm, instead of across your body. It may also help your baby to latch on better.

Some of the positions are given below.
a.  Side-lying hold
b. Cradle hold (same arm)
c. Cradle hold (opposite arm)
d. Rugby ball hold
e. Twins hold
f. Koala hold
g. Laid-back breastfeeding (biological nurturing)
h. Laid-back breastfeeding after a cesarean

2. Taking ibuprofen or paracetamol may ease pain and inflammation.

If your symptoms don’t improve within 48 hours, or if you start to feel ill and continue to feel pain despite trying the above steps, see your doctor. How to tackle blocked ducts during breastfeeding

How about you?

Have you ever had a blocked milk duct in your breast? How did you treat it? Share with us in the comments below so we can help other mamas who struggle with this.

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