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Blocked Milk Duct

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Blocked Milk Duct

When there is a blocked duct in your breast, the milk backs up behind the blockage, causing inflammation of the breast tissue. If it is not cleared, your whole breast may become inflamed and lead to a condition called Mastitis.

Signs of a Blocked Duct:

The affected area of your breast may feel tender, painful and hard.  Sometimes the area of the breast is red, but most times it isn’t and it's unlikely there will be signs of raised temperature.

Contributing Factors

  • Replacing breastfeeds with other foods e.g. solids or formula
  • Breast not “emptied” well enough – they should feel softer after breastfeeding
  • Baby not latched on the breast correctly
  • Missing out feeds, or if expressing, not expressing frequently
  • Oversupply of breast milk
  • Pressure on the breast tissue from a poorly fitting bra, underwire bra, baby carrier, mother sleeping on her front, or fingers holding the breast too tightly
  • White spot on the nipple (milk under the skin)
  • Bruising of the breast
  • Scarring from previous breast surgery


Management:

  • Avoid giving your baby anything other than breastfeeds
  • Feed frequently from the affected breast or if this is not possible express frequently to keep breasts soft
  • Apply warmth over the area before a breastfeed (and during if possible)
  • Massage toward the nipple while in the shower
  • Start feeds on the affected side first, while your baby is most vigorous with suckling.
  • Be sure that your baby is well positioned and latched correctly
  • Massage the breast along the affected area while you are feeding or expressing
  • Don’t limit the length of the breastfeed or how often you breastfeed
  • Use different feeding positions to help drainage (your position and baby’s)
  • Find ways to relax to assist your let-down reflex
  • If your baby is sleepy during feeds, or premature, or your breasts don’t feel softer after a breastfeed, you may need to express after breastfeeds
  • Rest, especially if you feel tired or unwell


This is not the right time to wean. The breast must be drained well to avoid the risk of mastitis and breast abscess. If you are unable to clear the blocked duct within 24 hours, or if you start to feel unwell before then, you should see your midwife or doctor immediately. You may need help from a lactation consultant if this cannot be resolved quickly.

 

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