Breastfeeding Challenges: Blocked Ducts, Mastitis & Cracked Nipples

Breastfeeding Challenges: Blocked Ducts, Mastitis & Cracked Nipples

3 Aug 2022 | 4 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 531 Articles

Whether you are an experienced mum who has breastfed before, or a new mum nursing for the first time, you might run into several breastfeeding challenges, especially in the early days. Blocked Ducts, mastitis, and cracked nipples are some of the common challenges of breastfeeding. 

Here’s everything you need to know about these challenges and tips to deal with them.

blocked ducts
Your little one’s strong suck at the beginning of the feeding might help to unblock the duct. | Image Source: pexels

What Are Blocked Ducts?

Blocked milk ducts are small, hard lumps in the breast that are formed when the breast milk clogs up and blocks the narrow milk ducts. This means that the breast milk cannot freely flow through the duct and the area around the blocked duct becomes tender, swollen, and red. 

Here’s what you can do about it.

7 Remedies for Blocked Ducts

  1. Ensure that your baby is latching on correctly and sucking the breast milk from your breasts properly.
  2. Try to breastfeed frequently to prevent your breast milk from building up and clogging the milk ducts.
  3. Breastfeed on the side with the plugged duct at first. Your little one’s strong suck at the beginning of the feeding might help to unblock the duct.
  4. Try alternate breastfeeding positions to drain all the areas of the breast. Trying different holds will be a better idea as it can help target the blocked duct and dislodge it.
  5. Apply warm compresses to the blocked duct so that the breast milk flows better in that spot.
  6. Massage your breasts to help relieve the clogging.
  7. Ensure adequate rest and drink enough fluids.

What Is Mastitis?

Mastitis is a breast infection that refers to the swelling or inflammation of the breast tissue. Issues like breast engorgement and blocked milk ducts while breastfeeding, fatigue, or illness can also lead to mastitis. You might suspect mastitis if you have redness or tenderness of the breast and have flu-like symptoms. 

Here’s what you can do.

6 Remedies for Mastitis

  1. Call your doctor as you might need to take an antibiotic.
  2. Ensure adequate rest while you recover.
  3. Apply warm compresses to ease the pain.
  4. Use a breast pump or take out the milk by hand, since it is painful to breastfeed with an infected breast.
  5. Wear a loose-fitting and non-wired bra to keep extra pressure off of your breast. This will help you feel more comfortable and allow the breast to drain better.
  6.  Apply chilled green cabbage leaves to the swollen breast to ease the pain. This is a great tried and tested home remedy.
mastitis
Cracked nipples during breastfeeding can arise from problems with the baby’s latch. | Image Source: pixabay

What Are Cracked Nipples?

According to medical research, 38% of breastfeeding mums experience cracked nipples which make the process of breastfeeding uncomfortable. Cracked nipples during breastfeeding can arise from problems with the baby’s latch and if the little one is unable to find the optimal position. It can also result from using a breast pump, especially if the pump flange is too small.

Here’s how you can cure cracked nipples.

5 Remedies for Cracked Nipples

  1. It is advisable to apply emollient creams, such as lanolin-based creams or coconut oil to the nipples after breastfeeding to soften the skin and reduce cracking.
  2. You can also apply your breast milk to the nipples to prevent cracking as it has antibacterial properties.
  3. It is recommended to apply a corticosteroid cream immediately after breastfeeding for no longer than two weeks at a time as applying steroids for a longer period might cause thinning of the nipple’s skin.
  4. Try to avoid wearing bras that are too tight as they can increase friction on the nipples.
  5. Say “No” to harsh soaps, deodorants, body powders, and other substances that might dry out the nipples and worsen the scene.

Most of the common challenges of breastfeeding are resolved within a few weeks. However, it is advisable to consult a lactation consultant who can help you find ways to make breastfeeding easier for you and the infant. The earlier you can identify and deal with the challenge, the better it will be for you and your little one as breast milk is your baby’s only source of nutrition in the initial months.

Also Read: Here’s Why You Should Switch Breasts While Breastfeeding

Natural Remedies For Relief From Breastfeeding Pain

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