A blocked milk duct is one of those annoying, sore problems that affects most nursing mums at some point.
It also makes feeding more difficult, which is the last thing you need when you're looking after yourself and your baby.
If left untreated, further problems such as mastitis and breast abscesses can occur, so check out how to clear it below.
A hard, tender lump on the breast
Redness of the skin around the affected area
Your baby may also take longer to feed than usual from the affected breast.
A poor ‘latch’
An ill-fitting nursing bra
Take the following steps to clear it:
1. Massage the affected area frequently using firm hand motions, pushing towards the nipple.
2. Always offer your baby the affected breast first and use a different nursing position than usual. Angle your baby’s chin towards the affected area to help massage out as much milk as possible.
3. Before feeding, apply heat to the area using heat packs or hot towels. After feeding, apply cold cloths or chilled Savoy cabbage leaves (you can also place these in your nursing bra). This contraction of the milk ducts will help loosen the blockage.
4. Hand-express frequently. Be aware that using a manual or electrical breast pump can cause tissue damage when used to clear ducts.
5. Finally, crouch on all fours in a hot bath and hand express into the bathwater. Gravity will help force the blockage out, aided by the heat of the water.
If dealt with, most blocked ducts will clear within 6-8 hours. It is important that you seek medical advice if the blockage has not cleared by 12-24 hours as you may require antibiotics to prevent infection.
For more information on breastfeeding, visit http://www.llli.org/ and http://www.breastfedbabies.org/