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  • Writer's picturePooja Vyas

"Unblock Your Milk Ducts: Understanding Blocked Milk Ducts and How Physiotherapy Can Help"

Blocked milk ducts can be a painful and frustrating issue for lactating mothers. They occur when a milk duct becomes clogged, preventing the flow of milk and leading to swelling, tenderness, and redness in the affected area.

If not treated properly, it can lead to mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue. To help ease this discomfort, MM Physio Cambridge offers ultrasound physiotherapy treatment for blocked milk ducts.

Ultrasound and physiotherapy treatment can help alleviate the symptoms and clear the blockage.

So what causes the milk ducts to be blocked?

Here are some of the common causes of blocked milk ducts:

  1. Incomplete emptying of the breast: When a breast is not fully emptied during a feed, milk can build up and cause a blockage.

  2. Pressure on the breast: Pressure on the breast from tight clothing or a poorly fitting bra can also lead to blocked ducts.

  3. Breast engorgement: Breast engorgement, which is when the breast becomes overly full with milk, can also contribute to blocked ducts.

  4. Changes in feeding patterns: Changes in feeding patterns, such as a sudden decrease in feeding frequency, can cause blocked ducts.

  5. Inflammation: Inflammation in the breast tissue, such as from mastitis, can also lead to blocked ducts.

Signs of blocked milk ducts may include a lump or tender spot in the breast, swelling, redness, and difficulty breastfeeding.

How to prevent milk ducts from being blocked?

To prevent blocked milk ducts, it's important for breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed frequently and ensure that their breasts are fully emptied during each feeding.

They should also avoid putting pressure on the breasts and take steps to prevent engorgement, such as using warm compresses or expressing milk between feedings.

If a mother does develop a blocked milk duct, she can often clear it by massaging the affected area, applying warm compresses, and continuing to breastfeed frequently.

What can I do at home to help with the clogged milk ducts?

  1. Frequent Nursing or Pumping: Frequent nursing or pumping is the most effective way to unclog a milk duct. Try to breastfeed your baby at least 8 to 12 times a day, including during the night. Nursing frequently will encourage your baby to empty your breasts regularly, preventing the milk from building up and causing blockages

  2. Warm Compress: Apply a warm compress to the affected breast before and during breastfeeding. The heat can help to loosen the milk and reduce inflammation. You can use a warm, damp washcloth, a warm water bottle, or a warm gel pack for this purpose.

  3. Massage: Gently massaging the affected breast can help to unclog the duct. Massage from the outside of the breast towards the nipple, using circular motions. You can also apply gentle pressure with your fingertips to help loosen the blockage. Be sure to massage before and during breastfeeding.

  4. Breastfeed on All Fours: Try breastfeeding on all fours. This position can help to drain the lower parts of the breast, where blockages often occur. Place your baby on the floor or bed and lean over them, so that your breasts are hanging down. This will help to encourage the milk to flow more easily.

  5. Take a Hot Shower: Taking a hot shower can help to relieve pain and loosen the milk. Stand under the water and let it hit your breasts. Gently massage your breasts while in the shower to help unclog the duct.

How can Physiotherapy at MM Physio, Cambridge help?

At MM Physio Cambridge, we use ultrasound technology to deliver high-frequency sound waves to the affected area. The waves penetrate deep into the tissue and promote circulation, which helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. Additionally, the gentle massage provided by the ultrasound therapy helps to break up the blockage, allowing the milk to flow freely once again.

In addition to ultrasound therapy, our physiotherapists may also use manual techniques such as massage or stretching to help relieve tension and improve the overall health of the breast tissue. We also provide advice on proper breastfeeding techniques and lifestyle modifications that can help prevent future blockages from forming.

Overall, ultrasound and manual physiotherapy techniques are safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment options for blocked milk ducts.

If you are experiencing symptoms, we encourage you to book an appointment at MM Physio, Cambridge to see how we can help.

If you have any questions call us at 519-267-0495 and our Pelvic Physiotherapist, Pooja Vyas can provide you with a free 15 min consultation.