Breastfeeding And Plugged Ducts
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A plugged duct is a milk duct in your breast that is blocked. Milk ducts carry breast milk from the glands (small sacs) where it is made down to your nipple. When a duct is blocked, the flow of milk from the duct to your nipple may decrease or stop. Milk may build up and cause a tender lump to form in your breast.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain. Acetaminophen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- Ibuprofen: This medicine decreases pain and swelling. Ibuprofen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage if not taken correctly.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Factors that increase your risk for a plugged duct:
- Incomplete breast emptying: Anything that keeps you from emptying milk from your breasts completely may increase your risk. Some examples include hurrying through breastfeeding sessions or switching breasts too early. As your baby gets older, he may get distracted easily and stop suckling sooner than usual. He may sleep longer or look around more instead of focusing on feeding. Missed feedings may also cause milk to build up and lead to a plugged duct.
- Pressure on your breasts: Heavy diaper bags, infant carriers, purses, or tight clothes can put pressure on your breasts. This may pinch your milk ducts and trap milk inside your breasts.
- Engorged breasts: Your breasts may become engorged if they are very full. If your body makes a large amount of milk that does not get removed, it may press on your milk ducts. This makes it difficult for the milk to move through the milk ducts. Your breasts become swollen and painful.
- Previous problems with plugged ducts: You may be at higher risk if you have had a plugged duct before.
Signs and symptoms of a plugged duct:
- Tender breast lump that grows slowly and usually forms on one side of your breast
- Pink or red skin over the tender area
- Your breast feels warmer than usual
- Small, white bump on your the nipple
- Pain in your nipple or shooting pains in your breast
The best treatment for a plugged duct is to empty your breast completely during breastfeeding.
- Breastfeed often from the breast that has the plugged duct: Feed your baby from the side that has the plugged duct first. Frequent breastfeeding may remove the blockage in your milk duct.
- Position your baby to help empty milk from the plugged duct: Hold your baby so that his nose is pointing toward the area of your breast with the plugged duct. This helps drain breast milk from the plugged duct.
- Massage your breast before and during breastfeeding: You may also do this while you take a hot shower or bath. Massage your breast with firm pressure from the area just behind the lump to the nipple.
- Express milk after you breastfeed: Use a breast pump or your hand to drain extra milk after your baby is done feeding. You can also express milk if your breasts are too full for your baby to latch on.
- Apply warmth to your breasts before you breastfeed: Put a warm, wet cloth on your breasts or take a warm shower or bath. You can also lean over a sink or basin of warm water and place your breasts in it. This may help remove the blockage and increase your milk flow.
- Apply a cold pack to your breasts after you breastfeed: This may help decrease swelling and pain.
Prevent a plugged duct:
- Breastfeed often: Breastfeed your baby 8 to 12 times each day or any time he shows signs of being hungry. You may need to wake your baby to breastfeed more often, or use a pump if your baby cannot empty your breasts.
- Allow enough time for each feeding: This will allow your baby to empty your breasts completely.
- Remove pressure from your breasts: Try not to sleep on your stomach, because the pressure on your breasts may increase your risk for a plugged duct. Do not wear tight bras or clothing that places pressure on your breasts.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever and chills.
- Your body aches.
- Your breast is red, very swollen or hard, painful, and feels warm or hot.
- You have a new tender lump in the same area that you have had a lump before.
- You have nipple soreness or cracked or bleeding nipples.
- You have pus or blood draining from one or both of your nipples or mixed in with your milk.
- Your signs and symptoms do not get better within 24 hours.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.