There's something about the words "clogged duct" that can strike fear into any woman with breasts, especially if she's spending her days and nights breastfeeding. So whether you're a brand new mom or this isn't your first nursing rodeo, f you're facing a clogged duct you're likely wondering how to clear a clog. But perhaps more importantly, wondering what happens once you managed to do so. So, what does it mean if your breast is still sore after removing a clog? Experts have a few ideas that should help you work toward getting the reprieve you need.
If your breast is still sore after removing a clog, it could mean one of two things. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it most likely means your body is simply healing the clogged duct and there's some pain associated with the trauma your breast has endured. The bruising and swelling, according to the NIH, should go down in a few days and after you've cleared the clog. However, it could also be a sign that your clogged duct isn't, in fact, cleared after all, and that you are developing mastitis, which KellyMom describes as "inflammation of the breast that can be caused by obstruction, infection, and/or an allergy."
But first thing's first: what, exactly, is a clogged breast duct? Well, BabyCenter explains, reporting the following:
"If you're making breast milk faster than it's getting expressed, it can get backed up in the duct. When this happens, the tissue around the duct may become swollen and inflamed and press on the duct, causing a blockage."
There are a few things you can do to prevent clogged breast ducts, according to the same site, and then there are a few things you can do to help clear them and ensure a clogged duct doesn't lead to mastitis.
Momtastic, a site that helps moms navigate everything from breastfeeding to going back to work postpartum, recommends good standard breastfeeding practices for keeping your ducts free of clogs. Among Momtastic's many recommendations, are the following:
"Feed on demand and don't miss feeds, ensure your baby has a good latch at all times, vary the positions you use to breastfeed (as this ensures more ducts are emptied), ensure you have a well-fitting (not too tight) nursing bra."
Of course, some of those things are a little easier said than done.
If you do suspect you have a clogged duct, look out for the signs and symptoms so you can address and treat the clog right away. You'll likely find "a small, hard lump that's sore to the touch or a very tender spot in your breast," according to BabyCenter, as well as "redness and a hot sensation or swelling that may feel better after nursing."
How can you clear a clogged milk duct? Find that breastfeeding baby, my friends! Even though nursing might sound like the very thing you don't want to do with a sore breast, it's exactly what can help clear a clogged milk duct. Momtastic gives a few helpful reminders when it comes to nursing through a clogged milk duct, reporting: "The best thing you can do for a clogged milk duct is to feed your baby as often as possible, making sure she drains the affected breast well. If you're not sure your baby has drained the breast you can also express using a pump following a feed. Remember to feed from the other breast too, not just the affected one."
If that doesn't work, hit the showers. Massaging the affected breast in warm water, or using a heating pad ,can help remove the clogged duct as well. La Leche League International explains that massaging the affected breast and using heat directly before you feed your baby can help the baby clear the clog more quickly, because the aforementioned aids your breast milk in flowing more freely. "Your best move is to take your baby to bed and stay there for as long as possible."
And as always, if you're experiencing continued pain, a fever, and/or swelling, contact your health care provider to discuss additional forms of treatment and assess whether or not your clogged duct has turned into mastitis. After all, that's what your health care provider is there for.
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