Managing Blocked Milk Ducts and Treating Mastitis
Blocked milk ducts are a common subject that many breastfeeding women have faced for millennia.
No doubt breastfeeding has its benefits, but it does come with some challenges and difficulties as well. Blocked milk ducts, milk blebs, and Mastitis are among such breastfeeding trails.
This condition occurs due to the obstruction in milk ducts.
The milk starts to gather up behind the blockage. Eventually, lumps are formed due to the accumulation of pressure inside the duct. These lumps are often quite painful and reddened.
Let's have a closer look at the causes behind clogged milk ducts so that new Mummies can have a better idea.
Causes of blocked milk ducts
- Breast Puffiness.Breast engorgements or puffiness often occurs when Mummies don’t breastfeed their babies enough. In such situations, the breast milk accumulates in the breast and sabot the milk ducts.
Breast puffins can also happen when your neonate starts to sleep through the night and don't feed.
- Blisters. Blisters or blebs are the worst. They choke up the milk duct openings causing the milk to jam up and trapped in the narrow passages. These passages let the milk flow from where it is produced inside the breast towards the nipple.
- Extra compression on the breast. Sometimes the only problem is the bra. Yes, you have read it right. The extra pressure on the breast due to bra can also lead to clogged milk ducts. This is because of the underwire in the bra or wearing a bra that is way too tight. They cause pressure on the breast tissue and cause clogged milk ducts.
Avoid wearing or carrying anything which can cause a burden on the breast to prevent such complications.
- Weariness or fatigue leads to the blockage of milk ducts as well. Not to forget dehydration. Stay hydrated to ward off fatigue and plugged milk ducts.
- Exercise: Stop doing the upper body exercises right away. We all know practice is good for our health and provide incalculable benefits, but sometimes it goes the other way around. Vigorous exercising can result in plugged ducts also.
- Detaching your baby too early from breastfeeding will affect not only the health of your baby but also yours in the form of plugged milk ducts.
Tips to unblock the blocked ducts.
You will get a plethora of tips for the unblocking of clogged ducts. But do you think they are authentic, or will they work? Don't worry; we have got your back.
Ahead you will get some real tips to unblock the clogged ducts.
Let’s get started
- Use Milk Pumping machines. Using the milk pumping machine is a skill worth having. You might get difficulty, especially if you aren’t used to it and using it for the very first time in your life. Just be patient and let the milk extractor do its magic.
- Drain your breast completely. The problem of plugged milk ducts arises the moment mommies wean off their babies, or the babies stop feeding when there still is milk inside breasts. This left-over milk causes the clogging of milk ducts. The best and effective way is to use a milk extractor. The milk pumping machine helps in draining the milk completely from your breast. You will get a variety of milk extractors The fun part is electric milk pumps come in various colors like blue (for baby boys) and pink (for baby girls).
- Use a heating pad. Apart from using electric milk pumps, you can also use the heating pads. Get your hand on warm pads and apply it for at least 25 minutes. If you are unable to find these pads, take a shower with warm water. It will also unclog the ducts.
- Switch positions while breastfeeding. You are using electric milk pumps very well. But there is another tip that will help you drain the breast's milk, which is switching positions while breastfeeding. Ensure that while feeding, the baby's nose or chin points towards the clogged milk duct. In this way, the milk will release, and in due course, the duct will be drained off completely.
- Massage. Massaging the duct will also help. If you want significant results, try massaging during warm showers. Massage the clog by starting above and pushing downward and external the nipple.
- Avoid popping the clog. Pinching or popping isn’t a possible treatment in any way. Doing so will enhance the complications and nothing else. Instead of popping the clog, use a breast milk pump machine because these gears surely know better than you to unclog the ducts.
- Use double mother milk pumps.If your baby isn't stuck to feeding on a single breast and often changes sites, use the double breast pumps. This double breast milk pump machine removes the blockage from both breasts. It will drain the breast thoroughly that your little one otherwise won't be able to do.
Another significant fact about mother milk pumps is that you can carry them anywhere with you. Also, the breast milk pump machines come with a rechargeable battery. So, if you are traveling, you can quickly recharge and use them.
Still, if the signs and symptoms of clogged milk ducts persist, consult your doctor right away because long-term lockage in milk ducts will lead to Mastitis.
Mastitis, treatment, and diagnosis.
When the blocked milk ducts are left untreated, followed by severe redness, that’s when you have Mastitis.
Biologically speaking, it is an inflammation of the breast tissue that usually entails infection. This redness causes breast pain, swelling, and warmth. Many women experience chills and fever alongside.
The typical victims of this condition are breastfeeding women. But the chances are that it occurs in men and also in women before breastfeeding.
There are many causes of Mastitis, but the most common ones have blocked milk ducts and bacterial infections.
- Bacteria is present all over our body. During breastfeeding, it comes straight from the mouth of your little one.
These bacteria then make their way toward the milk duct through a crack in the nipple's skin or another milk duct opening.
The motionless milk in the breast is a treat for bacteria as it feeds on it and grow its generation in such an environment.
- Blocked milk ducts. Ensure that the milk duct is emptied after breastfeeding. But sometimes your little one can't drain the ducts thoroughly. That is when the blockage of ducts happens and causes the milk to back up, causing infection.
Your doctor will do a physical examination after knowing the signs and symptoms.
Breast milk culture is usually taken from the patient. This method of diagnosing Mastitis helps the medic in finding out the best antibiotic medicine for the patient.
Often time mastitis is confused with a rare form of breast cancer that is the inflammatory breast cancer. To avoid any misperceptions, patients are suggested ultrasound or mammogram.
If the redness still is present after treatment, a biopsy is done.
Usually, Mastitis is treated through antibiotics and pain relievers.
- To eliminate the infection, a 10-13 days course of antibiotics required. Many patients left the system halfway. It is essential to take the medications through the prescribed time to eliminate the infection and suppress its chances of relapse.
Consult your doctor if the Mastitis is still there after medication.
- Pain relief medicines. Mastitis is followed by pain and redness. To lessen the problem, your medic will prescribe you medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen.
The positive news is that you can breastfeed while having Mastitis. Breastfeeding is the best way to eradicate the infection. Many women stop feeding their babies because they fear that the disease will be transferred to the baby, which is the wrong concept. Doing so will only worsen the condition. That's it.
You can follow the following breastfeeding techniques to breastfeed your little one;
- Ensure that your baby grips on correctly. This technique might b challenging to follow, especially when you have a puffy breast.
- Extracting a little amount of milk by hand will also help beforehand.
- Ensure the breast evacuates while feeding. If you experience any difficulty in draining the breast, use mother milk pumps, or apply a warm pad to your breast before breastfeeding.
- Massaging is another way to treat Mastitis and blocked milk ducts.
- Try to breastfeed your little one from the infected side. This will help because when your neonate is famished, he/she will suck more strongly.
- Change your breastfeeding positions often.
- Prevent yourself from extended overfilling of breasts with milk before breastfeeding.
- After you are done breastfeeding your baby, apply small ice packs to your breast.
- Wear a bra that is not too tight but is supportive.
- Rest as much as you possibly can
- Finally, don't overthink Mastitis and blocked duct because as long as you have this blog post, there is nothing to worry about.
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Plugged milk ducts.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Clogged milk ducts.
- Little Martin's Drawer