The World of Pregnancy

What Does A Clogged Milk Duct Feel Like?

What does a clogged milk duck feel like? This might be a question for which you want an answer if you are now in the period of breastfeeding your newborn.

About Clogged Milk Ducts

Clogged canals are among the most common medical conditions that occur during breastfeeding. A lot of women complain of pains, swelling breasts, the inability of draining the milk from the affected area, and it`s surprising how little is known in terms of general knowledge about first aid in case of clogged canals. It should be emphasized the idea of first aid because it`s an emergency in the breastfeeding process.  The mother doesn`t know exactly what to do, she`s bombarded with contradictory information, she doesn`t act immediately, it will soon come to mastitis, breast abscess, surgery (with possible damage to the milk supply from the respective breast), unless the doctor recommend ablation (stopping lactation through medication).

 

What Is a Milk Blister?

Milk blisters are nothing more than blocked nipple pores. You may have already heard it as nipple blisters or blebs. They are usually formed when skin grows over the opening of a milk duct, which blocks the milk behind it. Nipple blisters look exactly like little blisters – little dots on the areola or nipple. They are somehow painful and white or yellow in color. – Read more details!

Symptoms of Plugged/Blocked Ducts

  • Swelling breasts.
  • Moderate or intense pain.
  • The skin above the clogged canal might become red (usually a red less intense than in the case of mastitis).
  • There may be a general bad state: chills, fever less than 38.4° C.
  • The breast becomes harder, the milk comes out much harder (at the breast`s compression when pressing the areola).

Causes

  • Poor attachment of the baby to the breast, which leads to inefficient draining of the breast.
  • Long distances between meals (e. g. due to breastfeeding at schedule and not on request).
  • Completing the meals using the bottle, along with insufficient draining of the breast.
  • Extensive use of the pacifier (the hunger signals of the baby are “masked” by the pacifier; as such, the distances between meals start to become longer.
  • Inappropriate compression on breasts: too tight bras, the way breast is held while breastfeeding.

What Does a Clogged Milk Duct Feel Like?

If you are making breast milk faster than it is pressed out, the ducts may block. If this occurs, the tissue that covers the duct might swell and inflame, and it may slowly press on the duct. This will cause clogged milk ducts.

These are symptoms that your duct may be clogged or blocked:

  • Redness.
  • A swelling or sensation of hot which might feel a bit better after breastfeeding.
  • A tender spot on the breast or a hard lump which feels sore when touched.

Like mentioned above, if you may feel feverish or achy, this may be a symptom of clogged ducts which may have become infected and you should contact your doctor immediately. If this issue is left untreated, it may lead to mastitis.

How to Get Rid of a Clogged Milk Duct?

Usually, clogged milk ducts are discharged without medication in 24 – 48 hours, if the baby is placed properly to the breast and the area is well drained. Any swelling in the nursing breast should make us take action to avoid the situation get worse.

Every time you notice your ducts are clogged, you should take action immediately. If there are no actions taken, this issue may lead to serious complications. Sometimes the pain can be so intense and evolve so rapidly that it becomes harder to move. Even so, the skin may seem normal, so you shouldn`t always expect signs of redness. Sometimes, the affected area is visible even if there`s no redness experienced. We insist on the idea of red skin because many women believe that this is a mandatory symptom, which isn`t true. Moreover, the pain isn`t felt by every woman, so you shouldn`t expect unbearable pains before acting.

  • Place your baby to the breast as correctly as possible. The baby`s chin should be pointed towards the affected area. Most likely, the breastfeeding position should be different than the one we generally use.
  • Use an electric breast pump if you feel your breast to be too painful for breastfeeding.
  • A moist and warm compress may increase your milk flow. Do this before starting to breastfeed your baby.
  • Avoid wearing tight bras as they restrict the milk flow, leading to a blockage of your milk ducts.
  • If you massage your affected breast to unclog your duct, you`ll help your milk get loose before breastfeeding.
  • Another way to get rid of blocked milk ducts is to take a warm shower and then press out the milk from your affected breast with your hand by massaging the areas that is swelled from the top of your breast to the nipple.
  • Pumping and breastfeeding often is a good option to drain your breast. For instance, you can breastfeed on demand or pump at least every 2 hours.
  • You the breast isn`t fully drained after breastfeeding your baby, try to pump it manually!
  • Drinks enough fluids, eat well and make sure to rest.
  • Additional intake of vitamin C.

When to Contact the Doctor?

You should contact the doctor immediately that you notice an issue. For those who want to wait, it`s best to know that they should get in touch with a specialist if:

  • In 8 to 24 hours there isn`t any improvement.
  • The body`s temperature increases, the bad state worsen.
  • The breast turns into a more intense red, becomes hotter, swells or there are red stripes occurred on the breast.
  • The nipple seems cracked or infected.
  • You notice pus or blood in the breast milk.

How Do You Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts?

  • The breast attachment is correct with specialized help (breastfeeding consultant).
  • Alternating breastfeeding positions.
  • Avoid breastfeeding at schedule or using a pacifier.
  • Avoid tight bras or clothes that compress the breast.
  • In case your baby doesn`t suck enough, use a pump after each breastfeeding session to extract the remaining milk.
  • Administering of Lecithin until the end of breastfeeding session (to decrease milk viscosity): 1200 mg 4 times per day. Lecithin is compatible with breastfeeding and doesn`t have any side effects.
  • You may be able to prevent clogged ducts by following the following massage:

Tips & Tricks

It was found that stimulation by ultrasounds help in unblocking milk ducts. The treatment can be applied by a physiotherapist/medical physician and consists of continuous doses of 2w/cm2 for 5 minutes. The treatment should last for 2 sessions once a day. – Read more info!

In the “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” there`s a similar trick outlined: massaging the affected area with an electric toothbrush, shaving machine or massage machine.

Another recommended trick is to place the affected breast on the washing machine while it is on the spin cycle.

Image courtesy of HomerRmediesWeb.com
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