Breastfeeding and pregnancy go hand-in-hand. We are mammals, and what distinguishes us from other species is the ability to nurse our babies. But like most things in life, things can go a little bit, well, wrong.
Case in point: clogged milk ducts. It happens to a lot of moms. For instance, 4.5% of the participants in this study reported that they had experienced having the milk ducts clogged.
Clogged milk ducts are just what you think they are. Breast milk flows through tubes called milk ducts, which allow them to move from the glandular tissues to the nipples. But sometimes, the milk can get clogged during the journey.
Having clogged milk ducts is a pain in the breast. And getting it infected is worse! But there are many ways on how you can fix those clogged ducts. And one way is breastfeeding; more specifically, dangle feeding.
How Do Clogged Milk Ducts Happen?
Picture yourself at a restaurant trying to use a ketchup bottle. The previous diner didn’t use the bottle right, and now there’s dried up ketchup in the nozzle. And you have to put so much pressure on the bottle just to squeeze some condiments.
That’s the same idea as clogged milk ducts. Accumulated milk can clog your ducts and cause pain and swelling. This condition is common for breastfeeding mothers, those who have stopped breastfeeding, and those who opted out of breastfeeding.
There are other reasons why your milk ducts are clogged. Oversupply, irregular breastfeeding schedule, and tight clothing are just some of the factors worth considering.
Having a clogged milk duct can cause swelling, itching, and pain. You will also notice physical lumps on your breast. Breast milk will have a harder time flowing because of the blockage.
Clogged milk ducts can clear up within 1-2 days. Regular breastfeeding, where you allow your ducts to be emptied, can help immensely. There are other home remedies that you can do for relief, such as using a warm towel, soaking in Epsom salt, and massaging.
However, if the pain continues to be severe and persistent, you might want to get it checked. You might be experiencing mastitis.
Mastitis is the inflammation of the breast tissue, potentially because of an infection. Unlike clogged milk ducts, mastitis symptoms also include fever and chills.
Mastitis can become an infection if bacteria enter the breast. In this case, doctors will prescribe antibiotics. You will also be given pain-relievers. If left untreated, abscesses can develop inside the breast. Surgical removal is necessary.
You can prevent mastitis the same way as clogged milk ducts. Fully draining your breast can allow smooth movement in the ducts. Making sure your child’s latch is correct is also crucial.
The way you breastfeed can also help a lot. There are many positions that you can try with your baby. But for clogged milk ducts, the most effective way to feed is through dangle feeding.
A Solution to Clogged Milk Ducts: Dangle Feeding
Let’s go back to that ketchup bottle metaphor. When you squeeze the bottle, it’s always facing down. Obviously, it’s so you won’t squirt condiments onto your shirt. But there’s also another thing worth considering: gravity.
Dangle feeding relies on gravity and your baby’s latch to make your breast milk flow. As the name suggests, you will dangle your breast on top of your baby’s mouth. It’s not something you want to do all the time, but it’s effective when you have clogged milk ducts.
Dangle feeding might take some practice. But it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Follow these easy steps:
How to Dangle Feed
- Place your baby on their back on a flat surface.
- Lean your body on top of your baby. You can get on your fours, do a plank, or lean with one arm supporting your weight. You can use a pillow to support your weight.
- Dangle your breast right above your baby’s mouth.
- Let your baby nurse.
- Make sure to empty your breast thoroughly. You should also wait until one breast is empty before moving to the next one.
Tips for Dangle Feeding
Doing dangle feeding can effectively help loosen those blockages in your breast. But you can’t just rely on your feeding position to make yourself better. Here are some ways on how you can make the process more effective:
- Massage your boob before, during, and after breastfeeding. This can help loosen the blockage inside your boobs.
- Use a hot compress on your breast. Heat and steam can open up your ducts and create movement in your breast. A warm shower can also work.
- Save the tight t-shirts and bras for another time. Choose loose-fitted shirts, dresses, and bras to allow circulation in your breast.
- Ask for support from your partner if you’re feeling tired. They can help hold you while you’re feeding your baby.
- Follow a feeding routine so you can empty your breast more often.
- Try different breastfeeding positions. Dangle feeding is one of the many positions that you can experiment with. Just make sure to always support your baby’s head and body when feeding them.
- Finally, avoid smoking. You are at a higher risk of developing clogged milk ducts if you smoke.
Having clogged milk ducts is a painful experience. It’s a common problem that many mothers experience. Clogged milk ducts also make it harder for breast milk to flow out of the nipples.
There are many ways to remedy clogged milk ducts at home. Assuming it doesn’t get infected and turns into mastitis, you can expect your ducts to flow freely after 1-2 days.
One way to relieve clogged milk ducts is through dangle feeding. This feeding position allows gravity to help you pull out the blockage. As the name suggests, you will be dangling your breast on top of your baby while they lie flat on a surface.
You can also do other remedies to relieve your pain. Massaging your breast, using a hot compress, and taking OTC pain killers are some steps you can take.
Clogged milk ducts are painful problems, but they come with easy remedies. Just always keep one thing in mind while feeding your baby: every drop counts!