What are Plugged Ducts?
Plugged ducts occur when cells and breast milk get stuck in the milk duct and the milk does not drain properly. Plugged ducts can cause a painful, red lump on the breast behind the duct as the milk gets backed up.
What Causes Plugged Ducts?
Plugged ducts can be caused by poor milk drainage. It is important to have a lactation consultant check the baby’s latch and assess the baby for tongue tie. A poor latch or tongue tie can lead to inadequate milk drainage, which can cause a plugged duct.
A lactation consultant can also assess mom’s breast for milk blebs. Milk blebs can block the nipple pore from allowing milk to come out. If mom is using a nipple shield, experiencing oversupply or engorgement, sore or damaged nipples, thrush, she is at a higher risk for plugged ducts.
Plugged ducts can also be caused by chronic inflammation from unresolved or inadequate treatment of previous mastitis.
Moms who are interrupting or abbreviating feeds, tired, over stressed, busy, not getting enough rest or proper nutrition, experiencing illness, dehydration, or anemia, or eating too many saturated fats have a greater risk for plugged ducts.
How to Prevent and Treat Plugged Ducts
Make sure mom is getting some rest, and look for ways to reduce stress. Good hydration and nutrition – a well rounded diet with limited saturated fats – will help.
Supplements of Vitamin C and Lecithin have been shown to improve clogged ducts.
Eliminate pressure points on the breast (squeezing the breast during feeds, tight or restrictive clothing, etc.)
Use a moist, hot compress and gentle massage before feeding, and gentle pressure behind the lump during the feeding.
If you are struggling with plugged ducts or milk blebs, I can help! Click here to request an appointment. I will come to your home and help determine the cause of your breast pain and make you a customized feeding plan to help you get back to feeding in comfort.
Beth Sanders, BSN, RN, IBCLC