Breastfeeding is a joyous experience for both mother and baby. While some mothers pass through the breastfeeding stage without any hitches, there are those who suffer from breastfeeding problems that range from cracked nipples to more serious problems such as mastitis.
One of the more serious, uncomfortable and painful conditions is a clogged milk duct. A clogged milk duct or a plugged duct is a sore, inflamed and painful area on the breast that is brought on by the insufficient drainage of milk from a milk duct.
Causes, Symptoms And Treatment of Clogged Milk Duct
Causes For A Clogged Milk Duct
There are several factors that are responsible for the insufficient emptying of the breast. These eventually lead to a clogged milk duct. When a mother produces more milk than her baby can consume, the extra milk is retained in the breast. This usually happens in the first few weeks after birth, when the baby does not feed much but there is a large production of milk.
If a baby misses a feed and the milk is not expressed, one or more ducts can get blocked. If a baby is weaned from the breast too quickly, the breast continues to produce the same amounts of milk. This can again lead to a blocked duct if the breast is not emptied out manually.
Shorter feeds is another reason why milk continues to stay on in the breast, thereby leading to clogged ducts. An improper latch, tight bras, tight clothes and anything else that leads to pressure on the milk ducts over a long period of time can cause a clogged milk duct.
Symptoms Of A Clogged Milk Duct
The first symptom of a clogged milk duct is a small, hard area on the affected breast that is tender to touch. Some women notice that the affected area has become erythematous (red patch). Body aches and a fever are signs that an infection has set in. On touching, the area feels hot and tender.
Treating A Clogged Milk Duct
The most important step that one must take when treating a clogged milk duct is empty the affected breast completely. This can be done by allowing the baby to first feed completely on the affected breast and only then move on to the other breast. If the baby has finished feeding and there is milk still left in the affected breast, it must be manually expressed. Encourage the baby to feed at least once every two hours. Do not allow milk to build up in the breast for long periods.
Loose clothing made of soft cotton will relieve the pain and some of the discomfort. A warm bath will help get rid of the associated body ache and tenderness. Concentrate on pouring warm water on the affected breast – the heat will soothe the breast and provide temporary relief. Painkillers such as ibuprofen will help relieve the pain but must be taken only under the guidance of a doctor.
Antibiotics must be avoided as far as possible. Make sure that the baby latches on properly while feeding. Also, by changing positions, a baby will most often be able to get a better grip on the entire nipple while feeding. If you suffer from a fever, it is critical to keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids through the day. Rest There is nothing that works better than a lot of rest during this very trying and uncomfortable period.
Photo Credit: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical/IM02674