Here we have 10 top tips to help breastfeeding mamas treat blocked milk ducts and mastitis.
Blocked milk ducts and mastitis oh my!
When the ducts that carry milk from deep in the breast to the nipple openings get blocked, milk builds up behind the blockage. You may notice a lump forming and your breast will feel sore and it may become engorged and go red.
Mastitis occurs when a blocked milk duct isn’t cleared and infection may or may not be present.
Early symptoms of mastitis include shivers, aches and it feels like you’re getting the flu. Basically it’s like a blocked duct, only worse as the breast is usually red and feels swollen, hot and painful.
However, there are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms…
Treating mastitis and blocked milk ducts
Blocked ducts tend to occur when milk is not removed from your breast frequently, your baby is not attaching properly or if you have an over supply of milk. Blocked milk ducts are relatively common too so there are some simple ways to help at home.
1. Check your baby’s position
Present your baby’s chin or nose to the hard lumpy area while breastfeeding. This will help to drain the plugged duct.
2. Apply a heat pack to area before breastfeeding
The warm compress helps to increase blood flow to area and will promote drainage once the milk starts to leak after massaging.
3. Massage the breast before and during a feed
This will stimulate the flow of milk, so direct the massage from the blocked area towards the nipple.
4. Feed regularly
Stopping breastfeeding can increase the risk of a breast abscess developing, which occurs when mastitis is left untreated. You may have to go to hospital and have the abscess surgically drained.
5. Express any milk after a feed
Whether it’s by hand or breast pump, drain the breast fully if your baby is unable to do so. If the affected area is near the areola, express regularly as an engorged areola makes it difficult for the baby to latch.
6. Drink more water
This will stimulate breast milk production and give it a lighter consistency so that it can flow through the ducts easier.
7. Use cold packs after nursing
Pop an ice pack on to reduce inflammation and redness.
8. Avoid tight tops and bras
Remove as much pressure from your breasts as possible so loosen your bra or forgo it altogether.
9. Take pain/anti-inflammatory medication
These are safe to take while breastfeeding and may also help expel your milk, which will help clear the blockage. However, it’s always best to chat with your doctor / pharmacist about which medication would be best for you.
It’s important to take it easy, stress can play a big part in your milk supply so try not to worry, this is a common problem for many mums.
If you are feeling unwell, there’s pus or blood in your breast milk or your duct has not cleared in 24 hours then you should see a doctor.
You can also read this article about what can happen to your breast milk if you have a clogged duct.
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