8 Frustrating Breastfeeding Challenges—and Solutions
From latching issues to supply problems, thrush to mastitis, breastfeeding issues are common among new moms! Our expert resolves your more pressing (and painful!) breastfeeding challenges.
Plugged Milk Ducts
Your milk ducts deliver breast milk from milk-making cells in the breast through the breast tissue and nipple pores to your baby. When they become plugged, the results are hard, tender areas on the breast. The plug can occur deep in the breast or may be close to or right under the areola. If a mom has a milk blister, this will be on the nipple and will look like trapped milk, resembling like a pimple. Clogged nipples pores may prevent efficient emptying of the breast, which can lead to plugged ducts. If plugged milk ducts are not properly tended to, they can become quite uncomfortable and sometimes lead to mastitis.
Infrequent feedings and tight-fitting bras may cause plugged milk ducts. Treatment and care of the plug is very much the same as mastitis. The difference here is that there is no infection present. The goal is to resolve the plug quickly to avoid an infection.
Symptoms of plugged milk ducts:
- Firm, tender areas on the breast
- Slight warmth
- Milk blister (if the cause is due to a plugged nipple pore)
Use these tips to treat plugged milk ducts:
- Use warm compresses.
- Massage gently before and during feeds.
- Use ice packs on your breasts after nursing or pumping to the affected area.
- Feed frequently to promote emptying!
- Talk with a lactation consultant for tips on prevention and healing.
- Call your doctor if you start running a fever or feeling achy-you may be developing mastitis.
- Vary feeding positions to promote emptying.
As you are helping the plug to resolve, sometimes you may notice (while pumping or massaging) a clump or stringy consistency to the milk. The fat cells in the trapped milk can stick together.
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