Women’s Health Physiotherapy: Lactation Duct Blockage

According to a recommendation from the World Health Organisation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for their first six months, then be introduced to other appropriate food while continuing to be occasionally breastfed for 2 years or longer. Research has shown that breastfeeding has huge health benefits to both the mother and baby, including promoting healthy growth and development, preventing childhood obesity and reducing risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

However, up to 92% of mothers may find difficulty in breast-feeding, with problems such as breast engorgement and lactation duct blockage which can further progress to mastitis or breast abscess. These complications may result in pain, anxiety, and frustration, which can result in them choosing to completely stop breastfeeding. Prompt physiotherapy intervention can alleviate symptoms and encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding.

Reasons Which Cause Lactation Ducts Blockage

  • Inadequate drainage of breast
  • Excessive pressure on breasts, such as tight bras, tight infant carrier straps
  • Dehydration and fatigue
  • Incorrect positioning and latching

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Our physiotherapist will assess and formulate a treatment plan according to your needs. This typically includes:

  • Therapeutic ultrasound therapy to clear blocked ducts
  • Manual therapy such as drainage massage and effleurage to stimulate milk flow
  • Taping and Tubi grip to improve blood flow and lymph circulation
  • Education on positioning and posture during breastfeeding
  • Treatments to reduce inflammation, pain and swelling
  • Advice to minimise risk factors

Stretches That May Help With Pectoral Muscles Tightness

Hands Behind Back Stretch

How to do the stretch

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Interlock fingers behind your back and straighten your arms. Pull your shoulder blades downward.

  3. Gently lift your arms until you feel a stretch in front of your shoulder.

  4. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Towel Chest Stretch

How to do the stretch

  1. Stand upright and hold a towel with both hands behind your back.

  2. Lift the towel up behind, until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders and chest.

  3. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Doorway Stretch

How to do the stretch

  1. Place your forearm against a door frame or corner of a wall. Keep your shoulder and elbow at a 90-degree angle.

  2. Stand upright and step forward with one foot.

  3. Rotate your torso in the opposite direction, until you feel a stretch in front of your shoulder and chest.

  4. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding and lactation duct blockage, please do not hesitate to ask your local physiotherapist for advice, and get your problems solved instantly.

Written By: Christy Lam , Registered Physiotherapist, BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy UK, HCPC, MSc in Sports Medicine and Health Science (CUHK)

Christy is a skilled, gentle and patient physiotherapist based in both Jardine House and Wellington Street, Central. Having volunteered at various sporting events and providing on-site treatment to athletes, she is experienced in treating women’s health conditions, sports related injuries and chronic neck and back pain. If you are suffering from lactation or other women’s health related issues, book an appointment with Christy now.

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  1. World Health Organization – Breastfeeding, 2021

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