Milk congestion is a blockage of the milk ducts in the mammary glands. It can occur in particular during the milk entry (two to four days after delivery) and during the first period of breastfeeding, but also afterwards during the entire period of breastfeeding.
Milk congestion can affect one or both breasts and can occur once or repeatedly in one or more places in the breast.
Milk congestion occurs when the breast is not completely drunk, too much milk is produced or the milk cannot drain properly.
Read more on this topic: Maternal Breastfeeding Problems and Child Breastfeeding Problems
If the child does not drink enough or if their drinking habits change, for example due to a different sleep pattern, and the mother suddenly breastfeeds less often, the milk congestion can occur.
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A “mechanical” drainage disorder can occur when a thin skin in front of the milk outlet of a mammary gland blocks the milk outlet. This thin skin can be recognized by a white or yellow blister on the nipple.
A bra that is too tight or uncomfortable can also lead to the glandular tissue being constricted and the milk not being able to drain off sufficiently.
Psychological causes as well as sleep deprivation, stress and hectic everyday life can lead to the mother not being able to breastfeed and the milk to build up in the breast.
Furthermore, uncomfortable breastfeeding can cause difficulties for both the mother and the child when breastfeeding and thus a blockage of the milk.
There are various indications for diagnosing milk congestion. The chest can be in one or more places hardened be or the nursing mother can Breast lump Keys. Also one Sensitivity to touch and pain are typical of a milk blockage. The pain is often aggravated when the child is breastfeeding and sucking at the breast. Furthermore, the skin of the breast above the indurations may be reddened.
Please also read: Breast lump after weaning
The milk congestion can occur unilaterally or bilaterally and also affect several regions of the breast at the same time.
In general, if there are any signs of congestion, you should ask your midwife for advice or consult a doctor. In particular, if the woman is generally ill and has a fever, medical attention should be given, as there is a suspicion of inflammation of the breast.
Accompanying symptoms of milk congestion can vary widely. Hardening, tenderness, chest pain while breastfeeding and reddening of the chest can also lead to a general feeling of illness with flu-like symptoms, fatigue, malaise and fever.
If the blocked milk lasts longer, it can lead to inflammation of the breast tissue, the so-called Puerperal mastitis. It occurs in around one percent of women and is usually caused by germs from the baby's nasopharynx. During breastfeeding, these spread through small injuries to the nipples and cause inflammation of the breast tissue, especially if the breast is blocked. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, overheating of the affected breast and enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit are typical (Please also read: Lymph node swelling during pregnancy and breastfeeding). In addition, pus can leak out of the nipples. In this case, the mother should be treated with antibiotics.
Read more on the topic: Pus from the nipple
Fever with obstructed milk
A fever may occur during breastfeeding.
Already during the milk entry, two to four days after delivery, a slight fever may occur. If a fever occurs (especially around the puerperium), the nursing mother should give her midwife or breastfeeding advice ask for advice and one See a doctor.
It comes as part of a mastitis (Puerperal mastitis) due to bacteria leading to a fever, antibiotic therapy should be carried out. Please also read: Medication during breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is still possible even with a breast infection and while taking medication.
Treatment and therapy
If there is a suspicion of blocked milk, the affected woman should ask her midwife, breastfeeding advice or her doctor for advice.
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The mother should continue to breastfeed if possible so that the milk can drain and the breast is completely empty. If necessary, the woman should breastfeed more often and possibly express milk. It can also help to rub the breast a little before feeding.
Before breastfeeding, the mother should warm the affected breast to stimulate the flow of milk. Heat treatment options include a warm shower, cherry stone pillows or hot water bottles. When breastfeeding, you should always start with the affected breast so that it is drunk completely empty. The child should be placed in such a way that their chin or lower lip points towards the painful area, because this is where they suck the most vigorously and there is therefore a high probability that the milk will drain off completely in this way. After breastfeeding, the mother should cool her breast, for example with a cooling pad or cold (quark) compresses.
Measures that stimulate milk production should be reduced.
Physical rest, if possible complete bed rest, is very important for the mother. She should also drink enough.
After consultation with the doctor or midwife, different types of tea (for example sage tea or peppermint tea), homeopathic measures or acupuncture can alleviate the symptoms.
In the case of pain and fever, painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can also be taken while breastfeeding after consulting the attending physician.
In the case of bacterial inflammation of the breast (mastitis puerperalis), the affected woman should be treated with antibiotics.
Additional information can be found here: Milk Obstruction - What Can You Do?
In order to support the flow of milk and the complete emptying of the breast in the event of a blocked milk, the affected woman can next to breastfeeding the chest too also pump out. For that there are different possibilities. For one there is Hand pumps, with the help of which the woman can express the milk manually on one or both sides, on the other hand there is electric pumps. Breast pumps can often be borrowed from pharmacies, for example.
The freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen. Various guidelines should be observed for storing and thawing breast milk.
If the breast is blocked or if the breast feels very firm, the mother can stroke the breast before breastfeeding. This works particularly well when the chest previously treated with heat for example, during or after a hot shower, with a cherry stone pillow or warm compresses.
Before painting out should start with the Hands washed become. Then the chest should be through with your fingertips circular movements from the outside in and then with the palm of your hand massaged towards the nipple become. Then the breast can be smeared with gentle pressure above and below the nipple. The chest however not squeezed will and it shouldn't be found uncomfortable or painful. When the pressure subsides, you can breastfeed normally.
How can the milk congestion be prevented?
There are various ways to prevent milk congestion. In general, mother and child should be relaxed and able to withdraw a little while breastfeeding. Regularly changing the breastfeeding position can also prevent milk congestion. In addition, the nursing mother should wear a comfortable, well-fitting bra without underwire.
In order to empty the breast regularly, the woman should feed the child frequently for breastfeeding. You should start with the breast that is affected by the blocked milk. If there is no blockage or if both breasts are blocked, the mother should first place the baby on the breast where the previous breastfeeding stopped.
Furthermore, stroking or pumping the breast can help prevent congestion.
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Duration of the blocked milk
Will the milk congestion recognized early and if the various measures to improve the symptoms are taken in good time, it takes time usually only a few days on. If the Complaints for more than two days the woman concerned should be hers midwife, their See a doctor or breastfeeding advice.
Depending on how advanced the congestion is or whether there is a breast infection, the Complaints for several days last for.