A blocked milk duct sometimes occurs in breast-feeding women. A blocked milk duct can cause a painful swollen area in a breast. The overlying skin is sometimes red and inflamed, but not so intense as with infective mastitis. When you feed your baby, the pain may increase due to the pressure of milk building up behind the blocked duct.
A blocked milk duct will usually clear within 1-2 days and symptoms will then go. However, in some cases a blocked milk duct becomes infected and develops into a mastitis. So, some cases of mastitis develop as a complication of a blocked milk duct, but some cases occur without a preceding blockage.
Symptoms of Blocked Milk Duct
.Tenderness or bruised feeling.
.Lumpiness in one area.
.Pain as your milk lets down.
.Redness. This is inflammation - may not be infection.
The most common causes for blocked milk duct are:
.A hurried feed or missing a feed.
.Baby having a cold, leading to difficulty feeding.
.Unusual food has made your milk taste different, and baby did not like it.
.Pressing your finger on the breast to allow air to baby’s nose.
.Tight bra, clothes, seat belts.
.Sleeping in a position that squashes the breast.
.Milk dried into one of the ducts in the nipple
While medical remedies are available for all these contingencies there are some home remedies also and these home remedies are time tested and they have been time and again proven to be effective.
. Make sure that you nurse your baby frequently. This practice is very necessary in order to empty the breast completely. Breast feeding the baby often, can help increase comfort and reduce inflammation of the breasts. It is one of the most natural remedies for treating blocked milk duct.
. Massage the sore area of breast frequently, especially after every feeding. To massage it effectively, start from the top of the breast and gently work towards the nipple area. Sometimes by hand pressing the breast, particularly while taking a warm shower, the clog tends to open up and dissolve so that the milk can flow freely. In some cases, it has been found that the combination of warm shower and massage helps to remove the dried milk lump lump that has blocked the nipple.
. Placing of warm compress, towel or heating pad on the nipple before breast feeding can also help the blocked milk ducts to open up and in the process allow milk to drain uninterruptedly.
. Holding your baby in different positions every time while breast feeding ensures that the milk ducts empty properly. When the breast is sore and milk duct is blocked, it is a very simple natural remedy to try positioning your baby in a way that the chin of the baby is pointing towards the sore point. This would direct the suction towards the clogged duct and improve the healing process.
. Avoid wearing tight bras and clothing as they aid in blocking the milk ducts. Under wired bras should also be avoided as they tend to cut the breasts and thereby cause infection. While nursing, your bra should be well fitting and should allow you to breathe easily.
. Massage the breasts with a comb. Use a wide-toothed comb, or one without sharp teeth; soap the blocked area, and ‘comb’ from the outside towards the nipple. This can help break up the blockage. Try not to leave soap on your nipple.
. Arm-swinging exercises encourage circulation: washing windows or cleaning the car.
. Check your nipples for a white ‘spot’ that may be dried milk. Gently squeeze or pick it out.
. A sufficient intake of vitamin C helps prevent clogging of milk ducts and at the same time promotes healing of clogged ducts.
. Drink hot herbal infusions of lecithin and Echinacea. These will help relieve the pain and unclogging the ducts.
. Soak your breasts in warm water with some Epsom salts added. (one handful of Epsoms with every 2L of water). Rinse your breasts afterwards just to remove the saltiness.
. Dangle feeding (breastfeed while leaning over baby) can be used in order for gravity to pull the blocked ducts open.
. Get one teaspoon of castor oil and gently massage the breast starting at the center of your chest side of your breast and work across toward the other side of your breast in the direction of your arm pit area. Be sure to include massaging around and underneath the nipple, and to the sides.
. A warm compress using a cabbage leaf is an excellent way to help loosen the blockage in a clogged milk duct. Simply microwave a cabbage leaf for a few seconds in the microwave and then place it on the breast for 2 to 3 minutes (make sure it is not too hot). Repeat this every hour throughout the day.
. Refrigerate a potato for a few hours, and then grate some of the potato. Apply the grated potato over the affected breast and cover with a clean wash cloth or towel for 5 minutes while lying down. Repeat this every hour throughout the day using some freshly grated potato.
. Two teaspoons of dried leaf of goat’s Rue put in boiled water if taken regularly, the quantity of secretion of breast milk will increase by almost 50% and it also clears the milk ducts of all types of clogging.
. Take some parsley and put it on a cotton diaper. Tie the ends securely and dip the diaper in boiling water for about 15 minutes. Cool the diaper to the required temperature and gently compress the breasts with the diaper.