Guest Post by Jane Rudenko
There are many issues that can arise when it comes to breastfeeding. Dealing with some of these issues can be…well, painful.
Clogged milk ducts symptoms can be quite unpleasant so finding relief and clearing the obstruction is a must.
Find out what the common clogged milk duct symptoms are, how to treat them, and find relief!
7 Ways To Relieve Clogged Milk Duct Symptoms
When I gave birth I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions as soon as I started breastfeeding, from pure joy to excruciating disappointment.
Yes, breastfeeding is not all sunshine and rainbows, especially when you are a first-time mom having no clue about how to breastfeed and whether you’re doing it right.
Successful stress-free breastfeeding comes with life experience. And according to moms who did it three, four and five times, even the fifth one may be a surprise and catch you off guard!
I’ve had just one baby so far, breastfeeding him for a year and seven months.
What was really appalling for me was when I had my first episode of a clogged milk duct (left unnoticed and untreated for the first day) after a year and three months of breastfeeding when my baby was effectively nursing still on demand!
And then the second episode, and the third. I’ve struggled so much with recurrent plugged milk ducts getting more and more discouraged every time.
Until I realized, I had to dig deep and find any piece of information that could change the situation for me!
So here’s what I’ve learned.
What is a Clogged Milk Duct?
Clogged milk duct is an area in the breast where the milk flow is obstructed by the stagnant milk. Breast milk builds up in the duct and forms a blockage.
What Causes A Clogged Milk Duct?
- Poor latch. Ineffective sucking may cause inadequate drainage of milk from the breast.
- Engorgement (oversupply of breast milk).
- Changes in the feeding schedule. Skipped feeding and no pumping to relieve engorged breast.
- Wearing a tight-fitting bra.
- Sleeping on the stomach.
- Always breastfeeding in one position.
- Breast injury.
- Yeast infection (thrush).
- Weakened immunity due to lack of sleep, constant stress and built up fatigue.
Clogged Milk Duct Symptoms
When I first had a clogged milk duct I didn’t even know what it was.
I woke up feeling sore and fatigued. I could tell my body temperature was a little high. I thought I caught a cold, however, I didn’t have any other common cold-like symptoms.
It was surprisingly uncomfortable to nurse with my left breast. I felt some kind of stabbing sensations when my milk letdown.
I examined my breast. Everything seemed normal, so I didn’t pay attention to the discomfort.
By the end of the day, the discomfort turned into excruciating pain while breastfeeding that didn’t get better after nursing. I ran a high fever and noticed a big red lump on my breast.
So what are the symptoms for a clogged milk duct?
- Tenderness, swelling, and redness in the area of the clog
- Pain during breastfeeding, particularly when letdown
- The pain doesn’t go away after nursing, although you might feel a little better
- The appearance of a lump on the breast that feels hot and swollen
- When you touch the hot lump it hurts like a bruise
- Overall cold-like symptoms
- Fever (if the clog has not been treated in time)
Clogged Milk Duct Treatment
- Nurse frequently. Make sure to point the baby’s chin to the affected area of the breast where the clogged duct is.
- Make sure the latch is correct.
- Use heat. Apply a warm compress to the clog or take a hot shower sprayed directly on the hot red spot on your breast.
- Massage your breast. After the hot shower or compress, massage your breast carefully with oil and try hand expression to relieve the clog and loosen stagnant milk from the duct.
- Apply cold cabbage leaf to the clog. Make sure to squeeze it a little bit until the leaf releases the juice. It has anti-inflammatory properties and works wonders with the clogged ducts.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep, chill out. You need to get stress out of your system!
- Try taking probiotics that contain L. fermentum and L. salivarius strains of friendly bacteria. This study has shown that they may help prevent clogged ducts. In case you already have one, these strains work as antibiotics. They showed a positive outcome in treating mastitis during lactation. (Keep in mind that this advice should not be taken as medical. You cannot rely on probiotics alone. They are good as a preventative supplementary measure. Consult your doctor before taking them).
Can A Plugged Milk Duct Relieve By Itself?
Unfortunately, a clogged milk duct can’t clear by itself. It will only get worse if left untreated.
Do not ignore a clogged duct, it may lead to severe infectious inflammation in the breast (mastitis) that is treated either with antibiotics, or surgically (to collect the pus from the breast).
About The Author
Jane Rudenko is a breastfeeding and parenting blogger at triptomotherhood.com. She found her passion in helping women struggling with breastfeeding find answers to their problems and support. Her resource is full of helpful knowledge new moms need so much that is based on scientific research data and her own humble experience.