How to manage a blocked duct?

How to manage a blocked duct?

When milk is not effectively drained through the breast, it can cause blocked duct - which refers to the blockage in one or more of the small ducts that transport milk from breast to the nipple. You may feel grits or a firm lump on your breast, which may or may not be painful. Manage your blocked duct as early as possible so to prevent the development of mastitis.

Strategies to manage blocked duct:

  • Keep your milk flow to relief the obstruction by:
    • Continue direct nursing including the affected side
    • Ensure your baby suckles properly. Seek advice or guidance from Maternal and Child Health Centres or other healthcare professionals if necessary
    • Try different nursing positions, such as football hold or lying on your side, remember the key is you and your baby should feel comfortable in that position
    • Reduce the frequency and volume of bottle-feeding so to increase your baby’s desire to suckle and the frequency of direct nursing
    • If your baby is bottle-fed all the time, make sure your milk expression interval is less than 4 hours
    • Before nursing or expressing milk, you can use the following methods to stimulate the milk let-down reflex which will aid your milk flow:
      • Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby - let your baby lies on your bare chest
      • Gently massage your breasts. Avoid strong massage or the swelling of your breast will worsen
      • Apply a warm compress to your breasts for 3 minutes or less, prolong application or overheating will worsen the swelling
  • Relief your breast pain by:
    • Do not wear tight or underwire bras, they will impede your milk flow
    • After and in between feeds, apply cold compress on your breasts to relieve pain and swelling. You can also apply chilled or room temperature raw green cabbage leaves to your breasts, yet avoid contacting the areola. Dispose the leaves after 20 minutes or when the leaves soften. Before application, you can use a bottle to flatten the cabbage leaves. This will relieve pain from breast engorgement to the mothers who are making too much milk

If you have tried the above strategies and your blocked duct does not improved in 24 hours, or your condition get worse with flu-like symptoms such as fever, extreme tiredness; and you have a painful and swollen breast lump, you may have mastitis.  You should consult healthcare professionals or the Maternal and Child Health Centres immediately. Meanwhile, you should continue breastfeeding so as to maintain milk production and flow, and to avoid the blockage getting worse.