According to statistics, more than half of young mothers know firsthand what milk stagnation or lactostasis is. Knowing the causes of lactostasis and methods of dealing with it, you can significantly facilitate your life.
A heavy, full breast is the first sign of milk stagnation. If you do not take action in time, first painful sensations in the chest will appear, then seals and, finally, temperature. At this stage, lactostasis turns into mastitis.
Causes of lactostasis
Stagnation occurs when there is no milk movement in any part of the breast. The reasons for this phenomenon are different, most often it is a long break between feedings. The milk literally stagnates in the breast and a milk plug forms. An uncomfortable posture during feeding, a tight bra can also cause lactostasis.
Another common reason is advice from elderly midwives and grandmothers. About 20-30 years ago, it was customary to feed children every 3 hours, and after each feeding to express milk until the breasts were empty. Mothers of current mothers have followed the advice and are now passing on their experience to their daughters. But in their case, pumping was a necessity, because with a three-hour break between feedings, if only one breast is given at each feeding, it turns out that each breast is emptied every 6 hours. And if you did not express milk, there was a very real chance of earning mastitis. But now mothers feed babies on demand, and additional pumping is absolutely unnecessary, because milk is produced in response to breast stimulation, exactly as much as the baby needs. And if you express milk, your body decides that the baby is lacking in nutrition and begins to produce even more milk. It turns out a vicious circle: the more milk, the more the mother expresses, and the more she expresses, the more milk.
How to deal with lactostasis?
As soon as you suspect milk stagnation in the breast, you need to start offering this breast to the baby more often. After all, on-demand feeding means that not only the baby, but also the mother can demand. If the child is asleep, and your chest is swollen and sore, you do not need to endure heroically: gently, without trying to wake up, offer the breast to the child - many babies suckle with pleasure without waking up.
It should be remembered that milk is sucked most effectively from the area where the baby's chin is directed. If, for example, milk stagnation occurs under the armpit, try feeding the baby from under your arm.
With lactostasis, you should feed more often than usual, it is best to put the child to bed with you, for full night feedings.
Most of the time, these measures are enough to deal with the congestion, but sometimes extra pumping is still required. Before doing this, take a warm shower or put a hot towel on your breast - the heat will cause the milk to drain. Massage the place of stagnation in the direction of milk movement, from the base of the breast to the nipple. Strain the milk until the painful symptoms are relieved, then apply a cold compress to the chest for 5 minutes to relieve the swelling. After pumping, it is best to feed the baby from this breast, the baby will perfectly be able to dissolve the rest of the stagnation.
If the above measures do not help you or the temperature rises, lactostasis threatens to turn into mastitis. If the temperature persists for more than a day, immediately consult a doctor, gynecologist or mammologist. You will be prescribed physiotherapy, and possibly antibiotics, and you can choose drugs that are compatible with breastfeeding.
In any case, if you do not start the process, everything will be fine.