Clogged duct happens if the milk is not being expressed completely and new milk is being made faster than the old milk is being expressed. In such cases, the extra milk can get backed up and block or clog the milk ducts giving rise to limps that may or may not be painful. There are many reasons for why the milk ducts get blocked.
Clogged Duct Is A Common Breastfeeding Problem
Clogged milk duct is a common breastfeeding problem that usually resolves on its own. However, if it does not then there are several methods to ease the discomfort and pain that it causes. In case that it does not resolve with these methods as well, urgent medical help must be sought so that it does not progress to a serious condition like an infection or mastitis.
The milk ducts get clogged due to various reasons. Some of the causes are mentioned below-
- If the baby is unable to feed properly due to issues like improper latching, or falling asleep midway during a feed then a clogged duct is caused.
- Latching issues can be due to a condition in which the tongue of the baby is tied to the floor of his mouth by a piece of skin
- This hampers the baby’s natural jaw, tongue and mouth movements that are required for suckling
- The baby may even have issues with latching properly if your breasts are too full of milk and get engorged
- If the baby is not feeding frequently enough for the breasts to be emptied completely
- This may be due to increased naptime in the afternoons or if the baby has started sleeping through the night
- If after the feed, the breasts still have some milk remaining and you do not express it using a pump or your hands
- This leftover milk together with new milk can cause a build-up of excess milk and can result in clogged ducts
- If you have weaned your baby abruptly and far too early for the body to know that it should top making more milk now
- The sudden change will throw the body off grid and the milk that is still produced will cause the milk ducts to get blocked
- If there is a bleb on the nipple, a small whitish or yellowish dot like structure that forms on the nipple pore
- The nipple bleb prevents the delivery of milk from the milk ducts into the baby’s mouth
- It often implies that a milk duct is clogged as well.
There are some signs and symptoms that you can watch out for to recognize a clogged milk duct. These signs and symptoms include, but do not limit to the following-
- Usually a first sign that the breastfeeding women notice is an area on the breast, that is warm to touch, compared to the other areas
- It may feel lumpy or may even feel like a knotty rope
- It may cause some pain in certain cases
- For some, it may feel like a hard ball, which may be tender to touch
- The breasts may generally feel sore or tender
- There might be lumps that can be felt easily by you
- There might be swelling and redness in the affected breast
The babies may not be able to feed properly when feeding on the affected breast, which may imply a blockage in the milk supply, giving you a hint of a clogged duct There might be a feeling of malaise and being generally unwell
- You might feel fatigued or overtired
- If there is fever along with these symptoms, chances are that the mere clogged duct has advanced to an infected stage.
- It is not advisable to ignore any changes in the breasts that occur in the period of breastfeeding, and otherwise.
- An untreated clogged milk duct can progress to a more serious condition like mastitis.
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