Battles with the Breast
Breastfeeding is well known to be the best way of feeding new babies. What goes relatively undiscussed is how hard breastfeeding is for many women and the hiccups that can challenge even the most determined breastfeeders. Blocked ducts with or without mastitis are one of the many reasons why people stop feeding and are a common source of pain and discomfort in new mums.
Ducts carry milk from deep within the breast to the surface. They can easily easily blocked leading to an area of hardness or a lump within the breast. This lump is often very painful and can also slow the flow of milk on that side leading to a fussy baby. As any parent can attest a fussy baby and a tired mum in pain is not a happy combination.
Ducts can become blocked for a number of reasons including:
Just because they do!
Wearing tight fitting bras that put pressure on the ducts
Poor latch leading to insufficient emptying of the breast
Treatment for a blocked duct should begin as soon as you notice it. Firstly – keep feeding from the side with the blockage and offer this breast first when your babies suck is strongest. Try facing the babies chin toward the lump…sometimes easier said than done! Massage gently but firmly over the lump from the outer breast towards the nipple. It can help to put a heat pack over the effected area before a feed.
Ultrasound therapy by a trained physiotherapist is a pain-free safe technique that can help un block a duct. Ultrasound combines fine vibration and deep heat to help treat the blockage. Your physio can also help by teaching you effective self massage. This way you can self treat a blockage at the first signs should it happen again.
An untreated blocked duct can quickly develop into Mastitis – an infection of the breast tissue. So the key is to start treatment as soon as you notice a blockage. If a blockage fails to resolve within 12 hrs or you notice flu-like symptoms see your GP because your blocked duct may have developed into mastitis in which case you may require antibiotics.
Don’t suffer in silence. The first few months with a new baby are hard enough!