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Milk duct blockage - what is it and how do i get rid of it?

Being a new mom is both wonderful and challenging at the same time. But one thing that can be even more challenging is when the milk doesn't flow quite as it should. Breast engorgement can feel like a real blow – literally. It hurts, it's tough, and it can make you doubt everything you thought you knew about breastfeeding. But, you're not alone, and there are ways to deal with this. Let's take a look at milk duct blockage, why it happens, and how you can handle it to feel better. Need extra support with your breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle-feeding? Download the LEIA Health-app  and access our feeding log. If you've just given birth, what you're experiencing is most likely milk stasis, read more about it in the breastfeeding article.

Understanding, avoiding, and managing milk duct blockage.


What is milk duct blockage?

You get milk duct blockage when milk cannot be emptied from the milk ducts inside the breasts. This often results in pain, swelling, and the breasts may be red and inflamed. You can also experience other symptoms such as fever.

Why do you get milk duct blockage?

Milk duct blockage happens when milk in the breasts is not properly emptied, and that leads to an accumulation of milk and can cause pain and swelling.

You can get milk duct blockage for many reasons, here are some of them.

  • Your baby might have trouble getting a good grip while breastfeeding

  • If you don't breastfeed often enough or long enough.

  • If something is pressing against the breast, such as clothing.

  • If you have too much milk compared to what your baby needs.

How do I recognize it?

Milk duct blockage typically happens when milk cannot flow properly from the breast, which can be due to these factors.

  • It may be painful or tender in the breast.

  • You may see red spots on the skin.

  • You may have a fever and feel sick.

How do I avoid it?

There are ways to avoid and prevent milk duct blockage, including ensuring a proper breastfeeding position.

  • Make sure your baby have a good grip when breastfeeding.

  • Breastfeed when your baby wants and for as long as they need.

  • Find a comfortable position when breastfeeding (link to the article on breastfeeding positions here).


Tips if you've got milk duct blockage

When it comes to relieving milk duct blockage, it's important to breastfeed a little more often than usual. When you start breastfeeding, start with the breast that feels the hardest, as your baby usually sucks the most at the beginning. Try different ways to sit or lie comfortably when breastfeeding. Instead of massaging the breast, you can gently put your hand over the skin from the top of the breast down towards the nipple to help the milk flow.

Remember that your own comfort is also important for the breast milk. Ask for help if you need it, take a soothing warm shower, or ask for massage. If you're in a lot of pain or have a fever you can take painkillers or fever-reducing medication.

"I had pain in my breast, and it turned out to be a blocked milk duct. With the help of LEIA Health, I found tips on how to get rid of it."

Breast engorgement usually resolves on its own within a few days, while fever usually subsides shortly, and you should gradually start feeling better. If symptoms persist it's important to seek medical help. The lumpiness, tenderness, and tiredness should also decrease gradually, although it may take up to a week before they disappear completely.

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