When your body has a challenging experience, it’s as if it has its own built-in healing response. This is especially true for breastfeeding moms and new moms who are caring for an infant. At times, your body may initiate an inflammatory response to protect itself from infection or other potential dangers. Milk ducts that clog can be a sign of the defense system kicking in – especially when you notice other symptoms such as redness and tenderness in the nipple area or discharge from your nipples. If this happens, one of the ways your body protects itself is by creating an inflammatory response.
This article explains what clogged milk ducts are, what causes them, and how to soothe them fast!
What are clogged milk ducts?
Clogged milk ducts are a condition where the ducts in your breasts become irritated and inflamed, causing pain and tenderness in one or both breasts. If a clog isn’t treated, it can lead to a bacterial infection, which can make it tough to unclog the duct. If a duct becomes blocked, it can’t drain properly. This can cause discomfort, including tenderness and swelling.
Occasionally, a clogged duct can result in nipple bleeding. Clogged milk ducts are common, especially in women who are breastfeeding. They can occur when your baby isn’t positioned properly while breastfeeding. When your baby latches on, she’s placed pressure on your ducts, which can cause them to become blocked. This happens most often in women who haven’t given birth before or who are breastfeeding twins.
Why do milk ducts get clogged?
The most common reason for a blocked duct is when your baby isn’t positioned properly while breastfeeding. This is especially true for new moms or moms who are breastfeeding twins. When your baby latches on, she’s placed pressure on your ducts, which can cause them to become blocked. If your baby isn’t positioned properly or has latch-on issues, it may cause your ducts to get clogged.
When your baby’s mouth isn’t positioned correctly, she may use a sucking motion that’s more like a suctioning motion. This may cause her to pull the nipple and surrounding tissue into her mouth, blocking and pinching the milk ducts. It’s not uncommon for new moms to have clogged ducts. Most women who experience this condition don’t have recurring issues. However, it’s always important to identify and treat clogged ducts as soon as possible to prevent infection.
How to Soothe Clogged Milk Ducts
If you experience the signs of clogged milk ducts, the first thing you should do is contact your healthcare provider. You should be followed for at least the first six weeks following your delivery, or longer if you are breastfeeding. Your healthcare provider will help you determine if you have clogged ducts, how and what clogged milk duct treatment will work, and when to expect relief. If you have clogged ducts, you may also experience swelling and tenderness in the nipple area. Here are some tips to help soothe clogged milk ducts:
- Avoid long periods of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for too long can put added pressure on your ducts. Shorten feeding sessions with your baby if you experience any signs of clogged ducts.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps your body naturally flush toxins. Drink at least eight glasses of water per day to help prevent clogged ducts.
- Try applying heat. Using a warm compress on the affected breast may help open the blocked duct.
- Try some gentle self-massage. Gently massaging the affected breast may help open the duct.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting bras. Wearing bras that are too tight or have thick fabric may cause extra pressure on your breasts.
- Don’t use nipple creams or ointments. While nipple creams may help soothe and heal cracks in your nipples, they can create extra pressure on the ducts.
- Eat foods rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent clogged ducts.
- Avoid cigarettes, caffeine, and alcohol. These can increase the risk of clogged ducts.
- Speak with a lactation consultant. If you are experiencing ongoing issues with clogged ducts, see a lactation consultant. They can provide tips and tricks to help ease the discomfort.
More Natural Treatments for Milk Duct Discomfort
- Try acupressure: Holding pressure on a tender spot on your breast may help relieve the discomfort. If you are experiencing the signs of clogged ducts, you can try acupressure. Gently massage the areas around the nipple and breast with your fingers.
- Sip ginger tea: Sipping ginger tea may help relieve discomfort caused by clogged milk ducts.
- Apply Calendula oil: Calendula oil or hydrosol is a very common and effective treatment for clogged milk ducts.
- Try clove oil: Clove oil is another common treatment for clogged milk ducts.
- Snuggle: snuggling with your baby close to you may help ease the discomfort of clogged milk ducts.
- Suck on a lemon slice: If you’re breastfeeding, sucking on a lemon slice may help ease the discomfort of clogged milk ducts.
- Try warm, moist heat: Applying warm, moist heat to the affected breast may help ease the discomfort of clogged milk ducts.
- Drink chamomile tea: Sipping chamomile tea may help ease the discomfort of clogged milk ducts.
Clogged milk ducts can be painful and uncomfortable, but they are not uncommon and can be treated with little effort. If you are experiencing any signs of milk duct blockage, remember that it is best to contact your doctor. Your doctor will help you determine if you have clogged ducts and provide you with tips and tricks to help soothe the discomfort. If you are breastfeeding, it is important to make sure you are keeping up with proper hydration and nutrition. Be sure to drink plenty of water and eat plenty of Vitamin C-rich foods. Also, try to avoid activities that may irritate your breasts, like long periods of breastfeeding or using nipple creams.