Coronavirus, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients from ACOG

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Breastfeeding: Clogged Milk Duct

Young beautiful mother, breastfeeding her newborn baby boy at night, dim light. Mom breastfeeding infant

Whether you supply your baby’s nutrition through breastfeeding or formula, know that whatever is right for you and baby is the right choice. If you do choose to breastfeed, it can be a really incredible experience, but there might be a few bumps in the road as you and baby are adjusting. One of those obstacles is a clogged milk duct. 

If you feel a small, tender lump in your breast and feeding becomes harder, it’s possible that you have a clogged milk duct. Milk flows through your breasts via ducts to reach your nipple. If a duct is blocked, a clog can form, causing a small, sore lump. 

Most of the time, a clogged milk duct can be resolved at home, but if it feels like it could be getting worse or it’s not resolving, reach out to your midwife to discuss options. While it is rarer, mastitis is also a possibility and should be addressed quickly. 

Clogged Milk Duct Causes

When milk isn’t emptied from your breast properly, clogged ducts can form. Clogging causes might include: 

  • Latching or sucking problems
  • Missed feeding or pumping session
  • Being separated from your baby
  • Wearing restrictive clothing or a tight sports bra
  • Cracked skin around the nipples
  • Stress and exhaustion

Symptoms

If a clogged milk duct isn’t addressed, it can worsen the condition and turn into an infection known as mastitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of mastitis can include:

  • Breast tenderness or warmth to the touch
  • Breast swelling
  • Thickening of breast tissue, or a breast lump
  • Pain or a burning sensation continuously or while breast-feeding
  • Skin redness, often in a wedge-shaped pattern
  • Generally feeling ill
  • Fever of 101° F or greater

Prevention

Your midwife or lactation consultant can help to provide tips and suggestions to help prevent clogged milk ducts or mastitis. The Mayo Clinic also suggests the following: 

  • Fully drain the milk from your breasts while breastfeeding.
  • Allow your baby to completely empty one breast before switching to the other breast during feeding.
  • Change the position you use to breastfeed from one feeding to the next.
  • Make sure your baby latches on properly during feedings.
  • If you smoke, ask your doctor about smoking cessation.

Talk to A Midwife

While breastfeeding can be difficult at first and might come with obstacles, it may turn into one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. If you have further questions or concerns on breastfeeding, clogged milk ducts or mastitis, don’t hesitate to contact City of Oaks Midwifery today. We are here to help. Call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at our Raleigh, NC midwifery practice.

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