Simple solutions to remedy plugged milk ducts and ease the pain and discomfort.
Suffering from plugged milk ducts is easily one of the most common breastfeeding problems that we all hope we never face. They suck, like really suck. It’s painful and uncomfortable and just all around is not a good experience. As soon as you have… you instantly are in search of answers to get rid of it.
I got my very first one recently and another only a week later and let tell you… I would never wish to experience it again. It’s really not pleasant. You feel awful and everything hurts and it can take some time to get it to go away.
After having this happen a few times, I can tell you some easy solutions to remedy plugged milk ducts to ease the pain and discomfort. I hope it helps you!
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Items needed to remedy plugged milk ducts
Plugged milk ducts vs mastitis
Plugged milk ducts are uncomfortable but often can turn into mastitis. This is when the plugged duct has become inflamed and turned into an infection. It can sometimes be a little difficult to tell the difference between the two. I remember when I got my first plugged milk duct, I was googling for HOURS to read from other nursing mothers to figure out what exactly it was and if I needed to contact my doctor.
If you’re just not sure, let’s break down the two, shall we? Please note: the information provided below is based on research gathered from KellyMom.com
Plugged milk duct
Put simply, a plugged milk duct is an area of your breast where milk flow has been obstructed. The nipple pore could be blocked or it may occur further back in the ductal system like on the side of your breast. Typically, it comes on gradually and only affects one of your breasts. The first time I experienced it, I got a milk blister along with a plugged milk duct on the side of my breast.
Symptoms of a plugged milk duct may include a noticeably large lump where the duct has occurred that feels tender, hot, swollen, or reddened. Although sometimes you may notice tenderness or pain without an obvious lump or signs of engorgement. The location of the plugged duct may shift from time to time, and it will typically feel more painful before feeding and less tender afterward along with the lump getting smaller after feedings. When nursing on the affected side, it will be painful, especially during a letdown. On rare occasions, you may get a fever.
While mastitis is similar to a plugged milk duct, it is much more severe. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that is caused by obstruction, infection, and/or allergy. It is common to occur 2-3 after giving birth but can occur at any time. It is seen to be brought on when feeding or pumping sessions are skipped or missed. It is much more abrupt and affects only one breast.
Symptoms of mastitis may include symptoms that are relatively the same as a plugged milk duct but with much more severe pain, heat, and swelling. Additionally, there may be red streaks extending outward from the affected area. If you have mastitis, you may experience a high fever, chills, and flu-like-aching. It is very important to see a doctor if you believe you have mastitis.
If you believe to have mastitis, you should consult with your doctor immediately. However, if you believe to only have a plugged milk duct, I have some suggestions to help ease the pain and discomfort.
Simple solutions to remedy plugged milk ducts
Now that you are certain you have plugged milk ducts, I have some recommendations to help remedy plugged milk ducts. Depending on how severe it is, you may notice relief in a couple of days, up to a couple of weeks. But I promise you, mama, this will pass and you will get through this!
Nurse frequently as possible
Now, I will say that with a plugged milk duct, nursing is quite awful. It’s incredibly painful and a feeling you really have to push through. But with nursing as much as you can, it increases chances of relieving the plugged milk ducts as soon as possible. What this does is gets the milk flowing to clear up the duct. The more you can nurse with babe, the better. Just push through it mama! You got this!
Try dangle nursing sessions
Along with nursing as much as you can, try dangle nursing. This is when you put your babe on her back on the bed, and you will lean over her on your hands and knees to dangle your breast into their mouth. It sounds silly, I know, but it really works well! This allows the milk flow to go straight to the source instead of needing to take a detour using weird angles depending on the way you and your babe are laying. Try to do this as much as you can. I know it’s not always possible, but give it a try if you can!
Always offer affected breast first
Now, you also need to offer the affected breast first. The more you nurse, the better. It will get milk flowing and help clear up the plugged milk duct. By offering the affected breast first, you will give it a fighting chance to clear up the plugged milk ducts as soon as possible! When they’re done with that breast, you can then offer the other one.
Apply heat to affected areas
When you’re not nursing, applying heat really helps with the pain, like a lot. I used a hot/cold pack but have also enjoyed using breast therapy packs. It feels really good on the breast and will help with the pain and discomfort you are experiencing. I applied it to mine any time I wasn’t nursing.
Loosen any tight clothing around the area
Tight clothing is really bad for nursing even when things are going great, but especially when you have plugged milk ducts to clear up. It restricts the milk flow and it’s best to wear loose fitting clothing to avoid any problems. If you normally wear tight fitting clothes, it’s time to change out of those for now! Buy yourself some nice clothes that are comfy and loose fitting to hep with milk flow and avoid some common breastfeeding problems like plugged milk ducts.
Rest as much as possible
It’s important to rest as much as you can! If this is your first baby and you don’t have other obigations, try to lay in bed for a while. Nurse, relax, apply heat, enjoy your favorite series on Netflix. Do all you can and remember that this will pass in time! You will make it though it.
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