Breastfeeding: Plugged ducts

Beating breastfeeding challenges

Breastfeeding is the safest and simplest way to feed babies. The list of benefits for mom, baby and family is long. Unfortunately, mothers sometimes run into problems that make it difficult to continue breastfeeding. One of these problems is a plugged duct. Below Michigan State University Extension discusses how a plugged duct occurs and how to treat it.

 A plugged duct occurs when something has caused milk to remain in the breast. There are several possible causes for plugged ducts. Not adequately emptying the breast at each feeding can lead to plugged ducts. When a mother skips a feeding or pumping session, a plugged duct can also occur. Another issue can also lead to plugged ducts is wearing clothing (such as a bra) that is too tight. This can put pressure on the duct making it so milk builds up in the duct. Other practices that can lead to issues with plugged ducts include always sleeping on the same side, as well as always holding your baby in the same position while breastfeeding. A small lump will usually form in your breast if you have a plugged duct. The lump may be red and painful. An untreated plugged duct can result in a breast infection.

It is very important to immediately treat a plugged duct as soon as it is noticed. Treatments are fairly simple. First try to rest and drink plenty of liquids. Nurse more frequently and for longer periods at a time. Offer the breast with the plugged duct first. Apply heat to the sore area between feedings. Use gentle massage around the affected area. Remove any tight clothing and try different feeding positions. Express after each feeding to be sure to empty the breast. Avoid missing feedings unless you will be pumping. By following these simple steps, if you do have a plugged duct, you should be feeding easily and pain free soon.

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