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Blocked Milk Ducts

What is Blocked Milk Duct?

It is a blockage of one or more ducts carrying milk to the nipple for the purpose of breastfeeding.

What are the symptoms of a blocked milk duct?

  1. Pain in a specific location in the breast.
  2. A swollen, tender lump in the breast.
  3. Heat and swelling in the breasts.
  4. Slower milk flow on one side.
  5. Skin that looks lumpy in one area.
  6. A small white dot on the nipple called a milk bleb.

What causes a blocked milk duct?

  • Your baby is having trouble feeding for some reason, such as an improper latch, or isn’t feeding often enough.

  • You’re using a pump that’s not powerful enough.

  • You’ve abruptly weaned your baby.

  • A duct becomes compressed or damaged, due to pressure from a nursing bra that doesn’t fit well or from sleeping on your stomach, for example. This may trap milk inside a duct.

  • You have an illness such as a cold. Illness may cause you to not want to feed your baby as often or pump as frequently.

  • You’re under stress. Stress lowers your body’s production of oxytocin, the hormone that causes your breasts to release milk.

  • You’ve had surgery, such as a breast biopsy. The area that was operated on may interfere with milk drainage and cause a blocked duct.

How do I treat a blocked milk duct?

  • Continuing breastfeeding on the affected side.

  • Draining the affected area better. One way of doing this is to position the baby so his chin “points” to the area of hardness. Thus, if the blocked duct is in the outer lower area of your breast (about 4 o’clock), the football position would be best.

  • Using breast compression while the baby is feeding.

  • Heat on the affected area (hot water bottle) also helps.

  • If a blocked duct has not settled within 48 hours (though unusual), therapeutic ultrasound provided by a Physiotherapist often works.

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