Mayo Clinic, Managing Clogged Milk Ducts and Mastitis
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding or breastmilk only for the first six months of life. The group also recommends that breastfeeding be continued up to and beyond the first year of life or as long and mother and child desire. Most women desire to exclusively breastfeed for six months and plan to breastfeed for one year or more.
Breast pain is the most frequently stated reason for early weaning. The longer breast pain is experienced, the more likely the mother will wean her baby before she intended to. Immediate intervention and treatment of breast pain is crucial to preserving the breastfeeding relationship, and help mother and child continue with breastfeeding.
Plugged ducts and mastitis are common conditions in breastfeeding that affect up to 20% of women. Both conditions cause pain and discomfort of the breast, which affects long-term breastmilk feeding goals. A plugged duct is an obstruction of milk flow in a portion of the breast, either at the nipple or further back in the ductal system. Mastitis is inflammation and infection of the breast. These conditions happen most often in the first six to eight weeks postpartum, but they can occur at any time during breastfeeding.
Pumpables recommends leaning forward while using a Breast Pump
8 Breast pumping techniques to maximize milk output
Always lean forward while pumping
It’s important to lean slightly forward while pumping. If you don’t, your pump will have to work quite a bit harder to draw milk from your breast, and you may not be emptying your breast properly. Place a pillow behind you to help you comfortably lean forward and use gravity to help empty your breasts.
Always pump until empty; ignore the clock
Pumping times are a myth. You’re most likely pumping to stimulate supply or to relieve an oversupply because your baby isn’t drinking enough of what you make. Either way you will want to empty your breasts completely. It’s important to pump until your milk stops flowing (or flow slows to a small dribble every minute or so) because not doing so can cause plugged ducts and mastitis. Watching the
clock can prevent you from pumping until empty. Pump until your milk stops flowing, and then an additional 5 minutes longer; don’t pump until a certain amount of time has elapsed. After a while you’ll get the hang of things and notice about how long it takes to empty your breasts, and you’ll be able to plan time for your pumping sessions in advanced. If you’re having an oversupply, it should
regulate as your baby gets older by about 4 months, too.
Always massage and compress the breasts while pumping
Even if you’re hands-free pumping, it’s important to massage and compress your breasts while pumping (choose a hands-free pumping bra that is soft enough to allow you to cup your breasts). To compress your breasts, form a C shape with your thumb and index finger around your areola; apply gentle pressure. To massage your breasts, apply gentle pressure with your index and middle
finger in small circular motions working down toward the areola. Do this on the top, bottom, inside and outside of your breasts to get all the milk ducts. Don’t massage your areola or too close the flange as that can break the air seal. Remember to massage in your armpit areas too.
Stress and Anxiety lowering your milk supply?
What can reduce breast milk supply?
Feeling stressed or anxious?
Stress is the No. 1 killer of breastmilk supply, especially in the first few weeks after delivery. Between lack of sleep and adjusting to the baby’s schedule, rising levels of certain hormones such as cortisol can dramatically reduce your milk supply. I’ve seen women who, within 24 hours, have gone from having an ample milk supply to literally none due to stress.
Is your pump bra too tight?
The low-down on ducts
Milk ducts often become clogged when your breasts aren’t completely drained. Try to fully empty your breasts each time you’re breastfeeding or pumping to prevent clogs. Other reasons for clogged milk ducts include:
- Your baby has trouble latching or sucking and is unable to drain the breast during feedings.
- Changes in feeding schedules or missed feedings can impact flow.
- Tight clothing or bras can restrict milk flow.