Updated: Jul 10
You just started to truly enjoy breastfeeding after the first couple of weeks getting used to it.
But then, just when you thought things were going so well, you developed pain or burning in your nipples and/or breasts.
Some of the most difficult times to deal with start with pain. If it was initial pain and things improved after you got help with latching baby, you may be wondering just what is wrong.
Plugged Ducts - pain in one specific area of the breast.
There isn't any redness present, no fever or body aches with plugged ducts. Sometimes you will feel a lump, but it can be deeper and you may feel no lumpiness present. If you notice a white bump on the tip of your nipple after nursing or pumping, this is a milk bleb, which can also lead to plugged ducts but will be discussed below. Situations that can lead to plugged ducts include;
-baby beginning to sleep longer between nighttime feedings, and you didn't wake up to feed, leading to a fuller breast.
-oversupply and your body was used to you feeding &/or pumping a certain number of times a day and then you did not feed or pump as usual
-lack of sleep (above and beyond that normal sleep deprivation)...someone was up teething, you got to go to that friend's wedding, hosted Christmas at your house, etc.
Ways to get rid of a plugged duct
1) Continue to breastfeed or pump at least every 3 hours.
2) Apply cool/cold pack to the area that is painful between feedings/pumpings to decrease inflammation and lead to faster improvement.
3) Hand express in different directions around your areola prior to feeding/pumping.
4) While feeding/pumping, massage very gently towards the nipple starting right in front of the lump.
5) Ibuprofen and anti-inflammatory foods (such as; pineapple, blueberries, leafy greens).
6) Cabbage leaves have also been known to help with comfort and inflammation. Place a washed leaf inside your bra on your breast.
7) It may be helpful to take Sunflower Lecithin.
May start with the symptoms of plugged duct, but then evolves into something much different.
A red area on the breast that is painful and warm to touch
If the above symptoms are present, reach out to an IBCLC Lactation Consultant immediately for interventions to prevent further issues. Follow up with your Healthcare Provider if symptoms don't improve within 24-36 hours.
Thrush is a yeast organism that can take over the baby's mouth as well causing sore nipples and pain in your breasts. If you have been treated with antibiotics, you may be more susceptible to thrush (also known by Candida, yeast).
As with most breastfeeding concerns, it is always helpful to speak with a Lactation Consultant. Our Wellspring Lactation consultants are here to help, offering virtual and in-home consults to address any of your questions and concerns.