Breastfeeding can being sheer joy along with its perils, like your breasts feeling fuller and bloated. This is a condition, according to most doctors, that usually arises when:
- Your body produces more lactose than what is expressed
- Your baby is feeding less than they ideally should
- The baby’s nursing position is not correct and is thus not being able to suckle well
- You are often wearing bra that is too tight, which presses down the ducts and might cause them to clog
This can even lead to a blocked or plugged duct in either of your mammary glands. The area around the milk duct becomes hard and swollen. To be sure of the condition, you can gently press the area around the hardened duct and feel a lump that gives rise to a tingling or burning sensation, especially soon after breastfeeding the child.
There are some effective and easy methods to deal with this issue and reopen the blocked duct for smooth flow of milk. Some of the most common ways as prescribed by doctors are:
Plugged Duct During Breastfeeding: 6 Ways to Treat
Keep feeding the baby
This is a painful process yet easy and very effective. Next time when you breastfeed the baby, do it from the breast that is affected with the clogged duct. The baby is suck with full strength when they are hungry, which might help open up the duct. As the baby keeps suckling from that breast, gradually the excess milk will be disposed of, without going waste. Although this might be slightly difficult for the baby in the beginning, as milk will not immediately flow out, but this is helpful for you as well as the baby in the long run.
Pump out the excessive milk
At times, the hungry baby might not want to nurse from the affected breast as it requires excess pressure to suck, and the secretion of milk is a bit delayed. In this case, you will have to use an external – medically approved – breast milk pumping equipment to extract the excess milk and open up the plugged duct. You can also use your hands to pump, if it feels comfortable. Make sure that you pump for quite some time, until your breast begins to feel a bit lighter and less tight. This will gradually relieve you of the pain and irritation.
Change the nursing position of the baby
At times, the position in which you hold the baby while nursing them, leads to a clogged duct. This is probably because the baby is finding it difficult latch on to the breast, for proper suckling. Try to change the baby’s feeding position for the next few days, trying out a new one each day, until you find the perfect position that helps express milk. You will notice a gradual decrease in the level of pain and itchiness as you stick to the new feeding position.
Massage the affected breast
Just like pumping, massaging the affected breast has similar effects and helps open the clogged duct to resume proper flow of milk. Use both your hands, gently rub them around the hardened spot and let the ducts open gradually, as a result of the warm touch of the hands and the stimulation of the interiors of your breast. This is one of the most effective natural methods, as told by doctors, to relieve yourself of pain caused due to clogged milk ducts.
Rest and rejuvenation of the breastfeeding mother’s body is essential alongside regular nursing of the child. Too much stress and tight schedule during breastfeeding sometimes causes the mammary glands and their ducts to get tensed and cause blockages. The best way to relax is to take a power nap and hand the baby over to somebody reliable, for that period of time. A relaxed body and mind will lead to a better flow of milk that will help the baby suckle better and reduce your instances of facing painful situations.
Consult the gynaecologist
If none of the home remedies seem to work properly, visit your doctor and show them the affected breast. After careful examination, the doctor might prescribe some mild – mostly natural – medicines to help reduce the thickness of the milk and gradually open the plugged duct. However, the medicine will be required only till the time your duct opens up. One the duct is opened, you should stop the medicine and let things get back to being normal. Once again, start feeding your baby from that particular breast, to keep it active and to avoid future clogging.
A plugged duct might be painful for you and difficult for the baby to suckle from. You still have to continue trying to feed the baby from the breast, to ease the tightness inside, and resume proper flow of milk. Doctors have confirmed that a plugged duct is not harmful for the baby in any way, as they can still be fed from the other breast. But the first thing is to try to feed the baby from the clogged breast, even if it is difficult for them initially. Most babies adapt to the situation and suck hard to get milk out of it, thereby opening the plug! To be on the safer side, keep your gynaecologist informed of the proceedings, as you follow the home remedies.