Clogged Ducts – All You Need to Know

This may be your very first experience with a clogged duct or unfortunately you get them frequently. Either way they are a pain in the butt and cause a major roadblock in breastfeeding. Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself with one, save this article so you can refer to it. 

What is a Clogged Duct?:

Essentially, a clogged duct is an area of your milk duct where milk has slowed down or is no longer flowing through.  When your breastmilk remains unemptied it builds up behind the duct and the increase in pressure in the duct can cause tenderness or a lump to form. Clogged ducts usually occur in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. 

Clogged ducts are usually isolated and can be managed at home with some different tips and tricks I’ll share with you below.  

Common Causes of Clogged Ducts:

If you are having frequent clogged ducts, it is important you seek out help from a Lactation Consultant to find the root cause of the clogged ducts. While we can just keep treating them each time, they arise it is better to find the cause and fix it. We need to look deeper into why your milk duct is not properly emptying the milk. Here are some of the most common causes of clogged ducts. 

  • Oversupply
  • Tongue tie/oral restrictions
  • Poor latch
  • Sudden change in feeding schedule
  • Hormonal changes
  • Abrupt weaning
  • Pressure on milk ducts (ie tight bra, form fitting clothes etc)
  • Engorgement

Symptoms:

Clogged ducts are tender, hot, localized redness and you may have a low-grade temperature. Some moms complain of tenderness before a feed that resolves after the feed is finished.

If you do not see your clogged duct improve in a couple of days, you should see a healthcare physician and a lactation consultant. A prolonged clogged duct can lead to mastitis. Most clogged ducts last 24-48hours. 

Tips & Tricks to Treat Clogged Ducts:

  • My biggest tip is booking in with a lactation consultant who can assess your breast and breastfeeding. 
  • Make sure your baby is getting the best latch possible. 
  • Jump into a warm shower and while the water is running down your chest hand compress to relieve the pressure and move milk around
  • Gradually wean your baby from breasting. Its recommended to trop one feed every 5 days. 
  • Use the end of an electric toothbrush on the area to release the pressure and blockage. 
  • Increase feeding frequency and make sure baby is emptying the first breast first and then offering the second. 
  • Hand compressing during feeds
  • Warm compress before a feed, cool compress after. 
  • Get on your hands and knees and dangle your breast into your baby’s mouth to feed
  • When latching your baby point their nose at the area that clogged. 
  • Epsom salts in a haaka

If you do not see your clogged duct improve in a couple of days, you should see a healthcare physician and a lactation consultant.

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