Breastfeeding – How to deal with Mastitis and blocked ducts

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Breastfeeding mothers can face several problems during the time they breastfeed their child. Although these problems do not occur, breastfeeding women should be aware of them, so they can take appropriate measures when needed. Mastisis and blocked are two different but common problems faced by breastfeeding mothers. Each has its own causes and solutions. This article discusses these problems in details to provide more information to breastfeeding mothers.

Blocked Ducts

A blocked duct can be caused by milk that dries up and forms a clot in the breast, causing problems in the milk flow from the breast. Since a blocked duct restricts the flow of milk out of the breast, it usually leads to engorged breasts in the breastfeeding mothers, causing temporary soreness or pain untill the duct is unblocked. A blocked duct usually clears in 24 hours, but your baby will be fussy during this time when drinking from the breast with the blocked duct. Since the baby will not be getting milk in the quantity needed, you will have to shift the baby to the other breast.

When you have a blocked duct, you should take measures to clear it, as it increases the risk of mastisis. The block is usually always present just a few millimetres from the nipple, so it is easy to clear it out. Gently massaging the breast and using a breast pump to pump milk out of the breast can help release the duct. Breast pumps like Medela Breast Pump or Avent Breast Pump can be bought online easily from websites like where you can order online. If you do not have a breast pump, you can use your hand to squeeze milk from the breast.

If pumping does not help, you may have to look at your nipple closely to see any white specks on the surface. These specks can be easily removed by a finger nail or gently squeezed, like you pop a pimple. If you do not find any visible specks on the surface of the nipple, you will have to look in the grooves of the nipple. Continuous pumping and massaging of the breast at regular intervals can also help if the duct did not unblock at the first attempt. You may want to take a hot shower or keep the breast warm to help the blocked duct to open up. If everything fails, you should take professional help from a lactation consultant as blocked ducts can lead to mastisis if not dealt with on time.


Mastisis is a bacterial infection of the breast which can occur in breastfeeding mothers. It usually results from block ducts or cracked or sore nipples, but women without cracked and sore nipples can also get mastisis. Mastisis not only occurs in breastfeeding mothers, but it can also occur in any healthy woman.

Mastisis is usually associated with severe pain and fever. Since mastisis is a bacterial infection, it needs medication to cure it. These include antibiotics to help fight against the bacteria. However, mastisis in its early stages does not necessarily require an antibiotics treatment.

Some of the common causes of mastisis other than blocked ducts are poor draining of the breast due to a poor latching baby, causing the milk to over flow from the breast glands and into the breasts. This engorgement of the breast actually leads to infection. Infection is caused by the bacteria which may enter through cracked nipples when the baby breastfeeds. It is recommended that women who are prone to developing mastisis should wear a nipple shield while breastfeeding her baby. Using nursing or breast pads and avoiding tight bras can also prevent mastisis from occurring.

Mastisis can be of two different kinds; acute or chronic. It normally occurs in the first six months of breastfeeding, when the baby and the mother are learning the breastfeeding process. Common symptoms of mastisis include swelling of the breast, causing the breast to be warm or hot when touched. Mothers usually experience fever, chills or aches and swelling of the lymph nodes which are located near the breasts and under the arms. As soon as you start seeing any symptoms of a problem, acute or severe, you should seek professional help to avoid any complications.

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