Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
There are a variety of things that can cause breast pain when you are a breastfeeding mother. One nursing problem that results in breast pain is a clogged duct. This condition is sometimes referred to as a plugged milk duct. It results when milk flow is disrupted for some reason in an area of the breast.
A clogged milk duct can lead to an infection, so it is really important to catch it early, and hopefully clear it out before it results in a round of antibiotics.
What does a clogged milk duct look and feel like?
A clogged duct will result in a hard lump in your breast. The size of the lump can vary from pea- sized to considerably larger. It is usually tender, and often the skin is reddened where the lump is. It may feel warm. It is sometimes accompanied by a white spot on the nipple called a milk blister or bleb. Some moms also notice some additional heat in one side, where the breast seems warm. This is one of the earlier signs that may help you catch the clogged duct before it results in an infection. One study reported that 4-5% of breastfeeding mothers experience a clogged duct at some point during breastfeeding. If you find yourself in this unlucky group, you can usually get rid of the clogged duct on your own.
How to treat a clogged Milk Duct:
If you feel a hardened area in your breast, try massaging that area at your next feeding or pumping.
Get behind the lump and massage in the direction of your nipple. Using a special lactation massager or even the end of an electric toothbrush can help get rid of the lump. The massaging motion can help dislodge the lump, so it can pass through.
When you latch your baby, try to position him so that his chin is pointed in the direction of the lump.
Your baby’s chin will massage that area of the breast help it drain more thoroughly. If these simple measures are not effective, the next thing to try is to apply some moist heat to the clogged area about 20 minutes before the next feeding. A trick that moms use is to put warm water into a clean disposable diaper and apply that to the affected area. Make sure that you don’t make it too hot. You don’t want to cause a burn.
Alternatively, you can just wet a washcloth with warm water and castor oil and cover it with some plastic wrap to keep in the heat.
If you can’t get your water warm enough, you can put the wet washcloth in the microwave for a few seconds. Again, don’t let it get too hot! Doing a warm compress with castor oil has also been useful for many mothers suffering from a clogged duct. When you feed after applying the moist heat, again position your baby with his chin in the direction of the clog. Continue massaging the area throughout the feeding. You can also employ these measures if you use a breast pump.
Try massaging the lump in the shower while expressing milk.
This is a trick that usually works well. By standing in the steam and heat of the shower, you can massage and express the milk without worrying about it leaking all over. The hot shower beating down on the area can also feel really good, and be very effective when combined with a manual massage. Try taking a shower in the morning and evening, in addition to the other tips to really get that clogged duct to move.
It may take more than one session of applying the warm packs, massaging and showering to resolve a clogged duct. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t go away entirely right away, just keep at it to avoid any infections.
Why am I getting a clogged milk duct?
The most common causes of a clogged duct is something that prevents the milk from flowing freely. Tight clothing and carriers are on the list, among a few other things that can affect how your milk flows. Overall, it is really hard to say what specifically is causing a clogged duct, but here is a small list of items you can control:
- Poorly fitting bras
- Backpack straps
- Baby carriers
- Purse straps
- Seat belts
Some mothers find that if they sleep on their side, that can cause an episode of a clogged duct. Mothers with abundant milk supplies tend to get clogged ducts more often. This includes mothers of twins or triplets as well as those moms who just produce a lot of milk.
Most often, mothers with an oversupply experience clogged milk ducts.
If you have an oversupply issue and you pump a lot, decreasing pumping can help reduce your supply. If you have gotten used to pumping to keep from getting uncomfortably full, then you should gradually decrease how much milk you pump every couple of days. If a baby has a shallow latch or an ineffective suck, this can result in poor draining and could be
the cause of a clogged duct. Missing feedings can also lead to clogged ducts. This can happen when your baby starts
sleeping longer stretches at night. If you find that you get repeated cases of clogged ducts, you will want to take care not to miss feedings. Keeping a manual pump in your purse when you are out without your baby allows you
to pump some milk off.
Complications of a clogged duct:
If a clogged duct is not resolved, it potentially can turn into a case of mastitis. Mastitis is a breast infection. If you get mastitis in addition to a tender lump that is red, you will also have a fever and flu-like symptoms. Mothers report feeling very sick when they get mastitis. It requires treatment with antibiotics. Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of mastitis. The key is to treat the infection very quickly, so you can feel better with baby right away.
A healthy diet can help reduce chances of infection.
A healthy diet can actually be super helpful in preventing an infection from happening. Try eliminating sugar and simple carbs, which cause chemical reactions in your body that allow bacteria to feed and grow faster! Milk Dust is an amazing nutritional supplement low in sugar, and high in antioxidants to help keep your body in a more alkaline state, and hopefully less-likely to get infected! Milk Dust also has a great 10-day detox program, to help you stock to a healthy diet, that will keep your immune system working strong!
How to prevent clogged milk ducts:
While most moms who get clogged ducts will only experience this breastfeeding problem once, there are some moms for whom it is a recurring problem.
If you suffer from repeated episodes of clogged milk ducts, you should get in the habit of feeling your breasts after feedings to ensure that all areas have drained well. At the next feeding, massage any areas that didn’t drain well. Lecithin is a dietary supplement that some moms take to help prevent recurring plugged ducts. Taking 1200 mg 2-4 times a day has been recommended. Fortunately, most moms will not have to deal with this breastfeeding problem. But if you find that
you do, you now have several ways to deal with it.
Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
Breastfeeding has a steep learning curve. You have to figure out positioning and latch. Your milk comes in, and you have to manage engorgement. Then things start to settle down. Your baby gains weight and begins to develop a somewhat predictable routine each day.
Then one day, your baby suddenly wants to breastfeed constantly, all day long. You panic and think maybe your milk supply has tanked. What is probably happening is you are experiencing your baby’s first growth spurt.
Don’t worry; the feeding frenzy is perfectly normal.
What is a Growth Spurt?
Growth spurts are when children experience a lot of growth in a short period of time. One study showed changes in length or height by as much as 2.5 centimeters literally overnight.
Moms often report that they notice their little one suddenly needs the next diaper size or no longer fits into a sleeper that fit just fine a week ago. All that growth takes calories.
What is Cluster Feeding?
Cluster feeding is a period when a baby wants to feed very frequently. There are different types of cluster feeding.
Babies will often cluster feed in the day or two before a mama’s milk comes in. We like to say that all that frequent feeding is because they are putting in their order and telling mom’s breasts to make a lot of milk.
Many babies have a cluster feeding period that lasts a couple of hours or so every day. It might just feel like an extra-long feeding. This type of cluster feeding often happens at the same time every day. Late afternoon or early evening is a typical time for cluster feeding.
When babies start to sleep longer stretches, they often cluster feed when they first wake up.
Then there is cluster feeding that is caused by growth spurts. These cluster feeding periods can last days.
When Do Growth Spurts Occur?
There are typical times to expect growth spurts.
- 3 weeks
- 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
It’s good to remember that your baby hasn’t read the books and may have his growth spurt slightly off schedule or even experience an extra growth spurt every so often.
How Long Does Cluster Feeding That Is Caused by a Growth Spurt Typically Last?
The duration of cluster feeding from a growth spurt depends on how old a baby is.
The frequent feeding that occurs right before a mother’s milk comes in can last a couple of days.
The first few growth spurts usually last one or two days. As a baby gets older, the growth spurts last longer and may last several days. In general, the older a baby is, the longer the cluster feeding lasts.
If cluster feeding lasts all day and goes on for longer than one week, it is probably a good idea to have your baby weighed. You would want to rule out any possible decrease in your milk supply.
Good News About Growth Spurts
The cluster feeding that accompanies growth spurts can be tiring. However, many moms report that their baby started sleeping better after a growth spurt.
It is common for newborns to have their days and nights mixed up when they are first born. They want to sleep all day and be awake and eat all night. After the three-week growth spurt, they seem to get their days and nights straightened out.
After the six-week growth spurt, they often start sleeping longer stretches. That’s welcome news to sleep-deprived new mamas.
How To Survive Cluster Feeding
Whether it is a daily cluster feeding period or a growth spurt driven cluster feeding marathon, it can feel overwhelming. These tips can make it more manageable.
- Plan dinner for earlier or later if your baby likes to cluster feed in the early evening.
- When preparing meals that are freezer-friendly, double the recipe, so you have a supply of dinners ready to be popped in the oven or microwave. This comes in handy when those growth spurts arrive unexpectedly, and you have no time to make dinner.
- Use smoothies for one-handed meals made with Milk Dust Lactation Protein Powder to nourish your body, and give you something to sip on while nursing.
- If you have a grandma come for a visit, give her the task of filling your freezer with your favorite dinners.
- If you don’t have anything in your freezer, consider using a restaurant delivery service.
- Park yourself in your most comfortable nursing spot.
- Gather your necessary items nearby. This includes things to make you comfortable and things your baby will need.
- Diaper changing supplies
- Change of clothes for baby
- Burp cloths
- Water bottle
- Milk Dust Lactation Bars
- eReader or tablet for distraction.
- The remote control
- Don’t hesitate to hand the baby off to your partner so you can use the restroom or if you just need a few minutes break. Your baby may complain, but she will be fine.
Won’t All That Extra Feeding Cause My Milk Supply To Increase?
This is a definite possibility. If you feel extra full the day after a growth spurt, it is fine to pump a little bit if you are feeling uncomfortable. Try to avoid pumping until empty, though. That can result in an oversupply of milk.
Cluster feeding and growth spurts are part of having a baby. It can be a nice time when life gets busy to really focus on your baby. Before you know it instead of cluster feeding, your little one will be a big one and will be standing in front of the refrigerator, asking, “Mom, what do we have to eat?”
Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
When you dreamed about becoming a mom, you probably didn’t envision a screaming baby. But if your newborn is gassy, then a miserable baby is probably part of your reality. If your baby is spending much of the day crying because of gas, then you are probably desperate to find out how to treat your newborn’s gassy tummy. Many newborns experience a “fuss-period” during the “witching hour.” For many babies this is the evening, just when mama is so tired, or trying to eat something for dinner.
So why all the gas? What’s going on + How To Make It Better:
Gas is part of the normal digestive process. So, while you can’t eliminate gas in your baby, you can decrease fussy time with some simple gassy baby remedies.
Signs That Your Newborn is Actually Gassy
Babies cry for many reasons. To find what will provide relief, you need first to determine what the problem is. Many mamas just jump to a gassy tummy as the culprit, when in actuality, there are many factors to what make a baby fussy. They could be overly tired in the evening, not sure what they need (hello bad mood), or actually dealing with an upset tummy.
Your baby is probably suffering from gas if you notice these signs:
- Your baby cries a lot.
- Your baby squirms and pulls her legs up to her tummy.
- Your baby passes a lot of gas.
- Your baby is happier after passing gas.
Why Your Baby is Gassy
Different things can cause gas in your little one. One of the main reasons we can’t forget is that newborns’ digestive system is still developing after birth. As their systems mature, and more milk enters their body, it can be a difficult adjustment period. Many babies are gassy merely because their little bodies are still maturing, and after some time, it goes away.
Here’s some reasons why baby is gassy:
- Intolerance to something you are eating if you are breastfeeding (more detail on this to come).
- Intolerance to certain formulas if your baby is getting any formula
- Gulping a lot of air with feedings
- Moms with an overabundant milk supply
- Moms with a forceful milk let-down reflex
- Crying can result in your baby swallowing a lot of air.
- Eating very quickly when bottle-feeding
- Tongue-tied babies are often gassy. The tongue-tie affects the way the baby swallows.
Foods That Can Make Your Newborn Gassy
Breastfeeding moms may be able to decrease their newborn’s fussiness with some dietary adjustments. There still isn’t a lot of research on this topic, so many mamas have to use instinct and trial and error to find wihich food is causing the upset tummy.
Certain foods are known for causing gas in people. It is important to know that eating those foods when you are a breastfeeding mom won’t cause your baby to have gas.
Did you catch that important note? Foods that give you gas, won’t necessarily give your baby gas. This is really important because mny mamas wrongly assume their baby is gassy from the same foods that make mommy gassy.
Eating foods like broccoli and cabbage cause gas in mama because they contain a particular sugar that is not digested until your gut bacteria ferment it. That fermenting causes your gas. There are not little pieces of broccoli in your milk when you eat broccoli. This means that the actual fibrous particles that cause you gas CAN NOT pass to baby. These particles are not water soluble, and they remain in YOUR digestive tract. This is KEY to really solving the problem with gas in your baby.
The hidden foods giving your baby gas:
- Dairy products
- Soy products
- Nuts and legumes
While these foods may not cause gas, they can make a baby fussy, and the crying can result in a lot of air being swallowed. Notice how I didn’t mention broccoli, cabbage, spinach or other “gassy” foods. Many mamas don’t realize the hidden culprits are the list above.
Milk Dust is an amazing protein powder free of corn, eggs, nuts, dairy or gluten, that still offers mama a lot of nutritional support. If you are having trouble eating a healthy diet, try eating bland foods like oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potato for your carbs, and a protein shake for your protein and veggies! It could help you achieve your weight loss goals, boost your milk supply and keep baby’s tummy happy! USE CODE: NUTRITION for 10% off and free shipping on your first order!
The foods on the list contain specific proteins, and protein is what enters your breast milk. Caffeine also enters the breast milk. The proteins can be difficult for baby to break down when they are still developing, causing excess gas and uncomfortable tummies.
All babies are different. A food that makes one baby miserable may not affect another baby at all. Determining which foods, if any, you should avoid will involve trial and error.
Keep a diet diary where you record what you eat, when you eat it, and any fussiness that occurs in your baby. Make sure your diary includes ALL foods, not just foods you believe to be causing the gas. Eliminate from the list above first, then other foods if the upset tummy continues. If it is not one of the foods we’ve listed, you can try to eliminate veggies and fruits, only after you’ve given enough time off all foods above. If baby is still gassy, their tummies are most likely still developing and it will pass in a few weeks.
Gassy Newborn Remedies
- Simethicone drops are available over the counter. Many moms have reported that these drops have been an effective remedy for their gassy newborn.
- Talk to your baby’s doctor about his formula. Sometimes switching formula can make a baby less gassy.
- Standing and holding your baby in an upright position often makes them stop crying. I am not entirely sure why this is. I just know it usually works.
- Gripe water is a common remedy for newborns who have a gassy tummy.
- Paced bottle-feeding will help a baby eat more slowly and avoid swallowing a lot of air.
- Moms with an overabundant milk supply might want to try block feeding. This is where you feed your baby from one side for a block of time.
- If you have an average supply, make sure you always let your baby finish the first breast before offering the other breast. This will help ensure he gets the part of the milk that has more fat.
- If you have a forceful let-down reflex positioning your baby so his head is higher than your breast can help. Using the football hold or the laid back breastfeeding positions are good positions to try.
- Extra burping helps gets the air out of their tummy before it causes problems.
- Tummy time will provide some pressure on your baby’s abdomen, which can help relieve gassiness.
- Do the bicycle motion with your baby’s legs to help them pass the gas.
- Probiotics are available for babies. Talk to your baby’s doctor about trying this newborn gassy tummy remedy.
- Time. As your newborn’s digestive system matures, bouts of gassiness will occur less frequently.
Gassy or Colic – How to Tell?
I always encourage mamas to try to find the cause of their baby’s fussiness. However, there are some babies who have colic. To decide if your baby has colic, ask if the crying follows the rule of three.
- Your baby cries for more than three hours a day.
- Your baby cries more often than three days a week.
- This crying pattern lasts more than three weeks.
- Colic crying usually starts after a baby is three weeks old.
- Colic crying goes away by three months of age.
- Your baby is healthy and growing at a normal rate.
I hope after reading this, you have a better idea of how to help your gassy newborn. Having a fussy baby is really hard on mamas. Make sure that you take good care of yourself during this trying time of motherhood.
Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
When you have a baby, there is a lot of attention paid to their weight. When your little one is born, people will want to know how much he weighed. At the hospital, the nurse will weigh your baby every day. When you take him to see the doctor for check-ups, one of the first things they do will be to put him on the scale. Your baby’s doctor will plot the weight on a growth chart.
Weight gain in babies is a sign of well-being. However, many new parents are surprised when their baby loses weight in the first few days after birth. However, this is entirely normal and happens to all babies, whether they are breastfed or formula-fed. It is not a free for all though. There are guidelines as to what is normal weight loss for a baby after birth.
What’s Normal Weight Loss For a Baby After Birth?
The baby who is healthy and full-term will lose an average of seven percent of their birth weight. Most doctors will be okay with a weight loss of up to ten percent.
For those babies who do lose more than ten percent, most health care providers recommend supplementary feedings in addition to breastfeeding. The supplementation can be mom’s pumped colostrum, human donor milk from a milk bank, or formula.
Why Do Baby’s Lose Weight?
Babies are born with extra fluid and a bowel full of meconium. In their first few days, your baby will pass the meconium and eliminate the excess fluid when he has wet diapers. What they get rid of is going to exceed the small amounts of colostrum he takes in when he breastfeeds.
Mother nature set it up this way. The colostrum actually has a laxative effect to aid them in passing the meconium.
The colostrum is the special name we give the first milk that a woman’s breasts make. Some people think it is not “real milk,” but it is, in fact, just “early” milk. It is full of the things that your baby needs as they make the transition from being a freeloader in the womb to having to eat on their own once they are born.
A newborn’s tummy is very small, about the size of a cherry. So, the small amount of colostrum is just right for their tiny stomach. As each day passes, a mom makes more colostrum/milk, and her baby’s tummy grows and gets used to larger amounts in it. It’s really the most wonderful system.
When should a newborn start to gain weight?
A baby will usually start gaining weight once their mother’s milk comes in. The milk usually comes in between 48 – 72 hours after birth.
Moms who give birth by cesarean tend to take longer for their milk to come in than moms who give birth vaginally.
When Should a Baby Get Back to Their Birth Weight?
The guideline set by the American Academy of Pediatrics for a newborn to return to their birth weight is ten days. Most doctors will allow a few extra days if a baby is trending up with their weight. Doctors generally want a baby to be back to birth weight by no later than two weeks.
What Helps Minimize Newborn Weight Loss?
Babies who breastfeed more frequently lose less weight. Lots of skin to skin and rooming-in 24 hours a day encourages frequent feeding, You can ensure your breast milk comes in fast for baby by using a produce like Milk Dust. Many mamas have had success taking this product in the end of pregnancy, which helped promote lactation immediately after birth.
On their second night, most babies will start cluster feeding. A lot. It’s like cluster feeding on steroids. It is normal healthy behavior. This intense, frequent feeding is so common that it has a name. It is called Second Night Syndrome.
The mom who doesn’t know it is coming often worries that her baby is feeding so frequently because the baby is not getting enough from the breast. It is also a difficult time because moms often have not gotten a lot of sleep since they went into labor.
If I see a mom in the hospital before the second night, I will prepare her for it and encourage an afternoon nap. I also tell her that second night syndrome is a good thing. The frequent feeding helps minimize weight loss, and a mom’s milk often comes in sooner when there is a lot of cluster feeding.
What should you do if your baby Loses More Weight Than Normal?
As soon as your baby starts breastfeeding, learn to watch and listen for swallowing. Hearing regular swallows is an indicator that your baby is getting your colostrum when he sucks.
When a baby swallows, it makes a soft “cah” sound. You will also see a pause in the middle of the suck. The nurses and lactation consultants can show you what to look and listen for. In the first few days, it is normal to see several sucks before a swallow. When the milk comes in, there will be close to an equal number of sucks and swallows.
If your baby is losing more weight than average or not gaining as quickly as he should, doing some pumping after feedings can help increase your milk production, in addition to jumping on a milk-supply booster like Milk Dust. Any milk that you pump should be fed to your baby. If your baby is getting all the milk that you have, you won’t get much if anything when you pump. The stimulation is still helpful. Combininb stimulation with the herbs and nutrients in Milk Dust has been super successful for many mamas needing a boost in supply quickly.
It is always a good idea to have a lactation consultant evaluate how breastfeeding is going when there is too much weight loss or poor weight gain. A lactation consultant can often find small issues right away, and help you correct them immediately to fix any issues early on. Many hopsitals offer this during your stay.
Your baby will lose weight after birth, even if you feel like you are breastfeeding round the clock. Weight loss after birth is normal for newborns. Remember to have your pediatrician keep track of their weight loss, and don’t lett the weight loss stress you out too much.
If you are allowing yourself to get too stressed, you may find that will inhibit your milk supply a bit. Stay calm, take a supplement like Milk Dust, and keep baby close. Skin to skin and herbs go a long way to ensure baby is getting all the milk they need.