• Lila Abbate, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, WCS

Clogged Milk Ducts: Another Joy of New Motherhood

Being a new mom has all kinds of post-partum implications. Your body is healing from carrying and delivering your baby and as you learn to bond with your bundle of joy, the last thing you need is a complication. Unfortunately, obstacles can arise during your breastfeeding sessions and they are called clogged milk ducts. These blockages can cause pain, inflammation, and decreased milk supply to your baby [2]. Breastfeeding can feel frustrating on its own, so a clogged milk duct could make you want to give up altogether. Luckily, there are simple physical therapy techniques that can clear your clogged milk ducts and have you happily breastfeeding again in no time!

If you’ve tried self-massage and heat treatments without much success, being treated by a women’s health physical therapist could be your solution. After completing a quick medical history and physical assessment, your therapist will use an ultrasound machine to clear the blockages within the milk duct. Ultrasound followed by skilled soft tissue mobilization and massage techniques will reduce your pain, inflammation, and improve lymphatic drainage. Within one to two treatments, you’ll notice an easier and more confident breastfeeding experience [2]. Visits are typically shorter than traditional physical therapy appointments and it is helpful to bring your baby with you. Nursing immediately after treatment increases the likelihood of positive results, so there’s no need to worry about childcare for these appointments.

Before you get frustrated and stop nursing, call us at (516) 304-5373 to schedule an appointment. Breastfeeding is one of nature’s great gifts that has benefits for both baby and mother. Benefits to your child include improved cognitive development and decreased risk of obesity, while more recent studies have focused on the amazing health benefits nursing provides for mothers as well [1]. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, gestational diabetes, and heart-disease, which is the number one cause of death in American women [3].

According to doctors at Brown University, if 90% of American mothers breastfed for one year post-partum,14,000 heart attacks would be avoided annually and 54,000 other women would be at decreased risk for hypertension [3]. While there are instances where breastfeeding may not be a viable option for you and your baby, a clogged milk duct should not stand between you and healthy milk expression. With all that’s at stake, you deserve to give you and your baby the best breastfeeding experience possible!

Notes:

  1. Binns, C., Lee, M., & Low, W. Y. (2016). The Long-Term Public Health Benefits of Breastfeeding. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 28(1), 7–14. doi:10.1177/1010539515624964

  2. Cooper, B. B., & Kowalsky, D. (2015). Physical Therapy Intervention for Treatment of Blocked Milk Ducts in Lactating Women. Journal of Womenʼs Health Physical Therapy, 39(3), 115–126. doi: 10.1097/jwh.0000000000000037

  3. Schwarz, E. B., & Nothnagle, M. (2015). The Maternal Health Benefits of Breastfeeding. American Family Physician, 91(9).

3. Schwarz, E. B., & Nothnagle, M. (2015). The Maternal Heal

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