What Causes Blocked Milk Ducts?
Anything that interferes with the free flow of milk can lead to blocked ducts. For example, if a baby is not latching on well, a breast may not empty well, and will remain engorged. Milk may then thicken in the ducts. The swelling caused by one blocked duct can compress adjacent ducts, creating additional blockage. Sometimes, external compression from a seat belt or tight bra can compress ducts, so the milk thickens and doesn’t flow well.
Therapies You Can Do Yourself In The First 48 Hours.
Blocked ducts often clear up within 24 to 48 hours with some simple approaches at home.
- If the baby is not latching on well, try other positions, particularly with the baby’s chin positioned nearest the blocked duct.
- The midwife or doctor can check the baby for “tongue-tie” (a shortened frenulum under the tongue), which can make it hard to latch on. (Read more about tongue-tie here.)
- A warm compress applied before breastfeeding may help, if there is not much engorgement.
- If the breast is engorged, a cold compress might be more comfortable and help reduce swelling.
- Gently massaging the area above the swelling and then expressing milk by hand may clear a blocked duct.
- A white bleb can sometimes be scraped off gently in the shower with a soft flannel, opening the duct.
Have questions? Our lactation consultants can support you.
When You Need More Help:
We’re committed to supporting you to get completely better and back to being comfortable during breastfeeding.
Our therapists understand what it is like when something interferes with breastfeeding – the baby may be irritable, you need rest, and you shouldn’t have to be in pain – so we want to help ease the problem of blocked ducts as soon as possible.
If blocked ducts haven’t resolved over 48 hours, our professionally trained practitioners can get you in quickly, and offer you therapeutic ultrasound treatments, which can be quite effective.
- Ultrasound treatments are painless.
- Often, just one or two treatments, two days in a row, are enough to resolve the problem.
- An added benefit: the ultrasound treatment will often prevent the problem recurring at the same place.
Therapeutic Ultrasound – Painless, Non-invasive and Effective Treatment For Relieving Blocked Milk Ducts.
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