Common causes of blocked milk duct & mastitis

One of the biggest risk factors for blocked duct, or clogged duct, is oversupply. Think of the breast as a muscle. When a muscle gets overworked, it will get swollen, inflamed, and painful. When the breast is overworking from producing large amount of breast milk, it may also get swollen, inflamed, and painful. Swelling inside the breast narrows the milk duct, making it difficult for the milk to flow out.

Other common causes of blocked duct are:

1. Dragging of a pumping or latching session

2. Consumption of milk boosters, such as fernugreek, domperidone, lactation cookies, salmon, avocado, durian etc.

3. Prolonged compression on the breast - for example from tight bra, sleeping facing down, or baby sleeping on mummy's chest

4. Inappropriate use of breast pump - for example, using inappropriate flange size, using a machine that is too old

5. Baby having inefficient suckling, for example due to tongue tie or lip tie.

Mastitis is defined when fever is triggered by a breast pathology. It can be caused by a severe blocked duct, bacteria infection inside the breast, or a combination of the two.

We used to think the bacteria that cause breast infection comes from outside of the breast. However, recent research is changing our perspective of this condition. Breastmilk naturally contains different species of bacteria. They are similar to the bacteria that live in our gut. In fact, the bacteria in breastmilk is passed on to the baby to form the first bacteria living in their gut, helping with their immunity and digestion. The number and species of bacteria in the breastmilk can be affected by many different factors such as the mother's diet and health. If imbalance occurs in the microenvironment of the breast and lead to overgrowth of one particular bacteria species, it may cause a bacteria infection in the breast, leading to mastitis.

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