A blocked milk duct is a blockage of one or more ducts carrying milk to the nipple when breastfeeding an infant. Poor drainage of milk from the breast can cause a build up of pressure and discomfort in that area. Sometimes a lump may form. If the affected area becomes red this could be a sign that the breast has become engorged. Baby may be fussy when feeding from the affected breast, as the milk flow rate from the breast is reduced. Consultation with a lactation consultant or healthcare professional is a necessary first step.
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Preventing Blocked Ducts
- Feed your baby often.
- Wear loose tops and avoid tight underwired bras to ease any pressure on your breasts.
- Eat well and get plenty of rest.
Relieving Blocked Ducts
- Feed from the blocked side as often as possible so as to empty the affected breast.
- Get as much rest as you can. When relaxed your ‘let-down’ reflex works more efficiently.
- Check baby is attached correctly and can get milk easily.
- When baby is sucking vigorously feed from the affected breast first.
- Attempt to use different feeding positions – this may help to clear the blockage.
- During and after feeds gently massage the lump towards the nipple.
- Express breast milk by hand, if needed, before and after feeding.
- After feeding you may choose to apply cold packs to help relieve any pain and inflammation.
- Seek medical attention if you are unable to clear the lump within 12 hours.
- If you have a fever and feel unwell seek medical assistance promptly as you may have mastitis.