They happen to EVERYONE, but do you know what causes them? And more important… How to prevent them from recurring?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Blocked Ducts Cause #1: Lots of milk
If your body is producing more milk than your baby needs, this can cause blockages in your breast. These blockages happen because your baby can’t take all the milk.
Mothers may produce lots more milk than their baby needs naturally, this is not your fault and can be managed. But quite often lots of milk or oversupply is caused by expressing over an above what your baby needs.
Note: Producing too much milk doesn’t always lead to a blockage. But it often contributes to it.
Blocked Ducts Cause #2: Pumping too much
Your body is incredibly smart. It is designed to cater for all your baby’s needs. But sometimes this can make a small problem into a big one!
For example, your body cannot distinguish whether it is your baby that is sucking at your breast, or a breast pump.
So if you pump too much, your body will be tricked to think that your baby needs more milk. So what happens next? You will produce EVEN MORE milk!
So if you are pumping on top of breastfeeding, you need to start paying attention to how much you pump.
Anything over 100 millilitres a day (in addition to regular breastfeeding) will tell your body to make milk.
And making more milk can then lead to even worse problems of oversupply.
If your baby is not breastfeeding, then this 100ml guideline does not apply. You will be pumping more than that just to feed your baby.
Tip: If you are stocking up for a particular event, then take small amounts. Try to keep the extra pumping to under 50 millilitres in a 24 hour period. So instead of pumping three times as much in one day, spread it over a few days and add t it all together.
This way you can stock up for your occasions without affecting your overall milk supply. Perfect!
Blocked Ducts Cause #3: Scheduled Feeding
Are you feeding your baby according to some fixed schedule? Or are you letting them tell you when they want to feed?
If you’re waking your baby up for a feed, they might be too tired, or not hungry enough for an effective feed.
Similarly, if your baby woke up too early and you waited till the “designated feeding time” – they might be too tired to feed now.
In both of these instances, your baby’s suck is tired. A tired suck means your baby will not remove milk effectively. Which can lead to blocked ducts.
The solution? Read this:
Blocked Ducts Cause #4: Tight Bras
This isn’t just an old wives’ tale!
Tight bras (and tight clothing in general) can put pressure on your breasts. This pressure can stop the milk from flowing, and eventually lead to blocked ducts.
How can you tell if your clothes are too tight?
Take your bra off and stand in front of the mirror. Look under your breasts and down the side of your body. If there are strap marks on your skin, the bra is putting too much pressure on your breasts.
So if you see these strap marks or feel your bra or top is “digging into you” – remove them! Let your breasts be FREE!
If you wear breast pads, you have two options. you can wear a bra that is stretchy and comfortable. Or you can wear a firm fitting singlet. But make sure it has no elastic under the breasts.
Blocked Ducts Cause #5: Holding Your Breast While Feeding
Holding your breast while feeding can block areas of your breast.
So make sure you move your hand often (or remove completely). Now, if you need to hold the breast all the time, then you probably need to make some adjustments to your latch.
If you can’t let go of your breast while you feed, check out my blog post 7 Steps to Latching Success to learn more.
Already Have Blocked Ducts?
If you think you might already have blocked ducts, read the post below now.
It will give you the exact symptoms to pay attention to, and the five simple steps for “unblocking” blocked ducts and relieving pain in no time: