How Often Does A 2 Month Old Nurse At Night Physical Therapy Tricks for Plugged/Blocked Milk Ducts

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Physical Therapy Tricks for Plugged/Blocked Milk Ducts

As a physical therapist (aka Physical Therapist) and mother-to-be, I am increasingly interested in the physical challenges new mothers and their babies face. The rapid growth that occurs in both mother and baby creates unique physical demands that are usually unmatched in normal day-to-day life. These physical demands can lead to a variety of disorders, from pelvic/sacroiliac instability in mothers due to rapid weight gain and hormonal changes that lead to loose ligaments (also known as laxity) to stiff and crooked necks in infants (Torticollis), which the child may have at birth or acquire in the following weeks.

Physical therapists have an impressive array of techniques for treating a wide variety of orthopedic conditions, including those listed above. One little-known indication for physiotherapy that I have treated with great success is blocked milk ducts in nursing mothers. While this issue clearly does not fall into the typical assortment of orthopedic conditions and sports injuries that have become synonymous with physical therapy, physical therapy modalities including therapeutic ultrasound and massage techniques can be extremely effective in clearing blocked ducts.

Clogged milk ducts can be painful and always stressful. Symptoms include tender, red and warm areas of the breast with gradual loss of milk. Although the cause is not always clear, it is thought to be commonly caused by a build-up of dried milk in the milk duct network. Risk factors for developing a blockage include incomplete or irregular drainage caused by short or irregular feeding and long-term pressure from straps, seat belts or tight bras. In most cases, mothers can treat blocked milk ducts on their own using a few simple strategies (as also recommended by the Canadian Breastfeeding Association):

  1. Breastfeed your baby often during the day and night so that the breast is completely empty.
  2. Massage the breasts to release the blockage during breastfeeding.
  3. Wear non-restrictive clothing.
  4. Before each feeding, soak your breasts in warm water with Epsom salt (a handful of salt per 2-4 liters) for 10 minutes.
  5. Try different feeding positions, including leaning over baby.
  6. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water.

If the condition persists for more than 2-3 days, physiotherapy may be warranted. By applying painless therapeutic ultrasound combined with manual massage techniques, clogged ducts are usually cleared within 1-2 sessions with your registered physical therapist. (You may want to make sure your physical therapist has experience treating this condition). Consult your physical therapist or family doctor before implementing the procedures suggested in this article.

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