Taking care of mamas so they can provide nutritious breast milk to their babies is super important. Physical Therapists at our locations in Des Moines, North Liberty, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City are skilled in soothing sore breasts.

What’s a Clogged Milk Duct?

First things first, let’s understand what happens when a milk duct gets “clogged.” Our bodies are incredible, and they make milk to feed our babies. The milk duct is the tube through which the milk passes on it’s way to the nipple. Sometimes, though, the walls of the milk duct get inflamed, irritated or swollen and the milk is unable to pass through. It’s like the highway narrowing and causing a tiny traffic jam.

Why Do Clogged Ducts Happen?

These clogged ducts can happen for many reasons; inefficient latch or poor pump fit, or wearing too tight clothes, laying too long on a full breast or even tight muscles. Stress and not drinking enough water can also contribute. It’s helpful to consider clogged ducts more like a duct injury than an infection (unless it is confirmed in a lab as mastitis). Inflamed ducts won’t allow the milk to pass through, causing the “clog.”

Proper Positions for Feeding & Use of Breast Pump

Physical therapists also show moms the best positions for feeding their babies. Sometimes, changing how we hold our little ones can make a big difference. Avoid the use of nipple shields and finding a good pump fit is also important. If you are pumping with a clogged milk duct, avoid the urge to over pump or turn the suction too high. In fact, sometimes giving the sore breast a break can decrease stress on the sore duct. Avoid over sterilizing your breast pump.

Ultrasound Therapy

A physical therapist can use therapeutic ultrasound to reduce inflammation and get a clog moving. Research has shown 1-3 ultrasounds in a week provides significant relief or resolution of a clog.

Hydration and Self-Care Tips

Hydration is critical as mama’s bodies prioritize creating milk over nourishing their own tissues. Breastfeeding women should drink more than 70 ounces of water per day and should include electrolytes to ensure all that good water gets into their cells. They may want to talk to their physician about the use of ibuprofen or tylenol for pain; probiotics; and sunflower or soy lecithin to emulsify milk and reduce inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend a topical steroid cream to treat blebs if they exist.

The Power of Support

Women’s health physical therapists are there to support moms every step of the way because they have the time to listen. Physical Therapists at Breathe. Physical Therapy & Wellness in Des Moines & North Liberty Iowa are specialists in treating breast pain from clogged ducts.

If you or a woman you know is facing a clogged milk duct challenge, remember that physical therapy can help! With gentle massage, ultrasound therapy, exercises, and lots of support, physical therapists help moms feel their best, ensuring that the milk flows smoothly, and happiness fills every moment.

Here’s to strong and happy moms everywhere – you’re doing an incredible job!
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