Lactostasis is the stasis of milk in the mammary glands provoked by the blockage of one or several milk ducts. Develops lactostasis primarily in primiparous women in the first ten days after childbirth.

With all the external diversity, the internal structure of the mammary glands is the same for all women: glandular tissue is located under the skin surrounded by fatty tissue, divided by connective tissue strands into several (about 15-20) large lobes. These lobes branch into smaller lobes, which open through the excretory ducts to the outside of the nipple. If in any of the ducts there is an obstacle to free flow of milk out, a so-called “milk plug” is formed. As a result, the mammary gland can not completely empty, and lactostasis occurs.

In the basis of the development of milk stagnation in the milk ducts, there are violations of the rules and rhythm of feeding the baby, an incorrect expression of milk. Much less often, lactostasis is provoked by stressful situations and hypothermia. Incorrectly picked up linen can lead to clamping of dairy moves and stagnation of milk in the gland.

Lactostasis does not pose a threat to the health of the nursing mother and her child. However, illiterate actions to eliminate it (as well as complete inaction) can provoke undesirable consequences.

Eliminate lactostasis as soon as possible (within 3-4 days) in order to avoid the development of its complication – acute purulent mastitis. With the long-term presence of milk in the milk ducts, the processes of fermentation and serous (nonsphenolar) inflammation begin in them. This creates favorable conditions for the development of infection, the pathogenic flora intensely multiplies in the lactostasis area, damages the walls of the milk duct and spreads around the surrounding tissues.

If a woman controls the condition of her breasts, observes simple rules of feeding the baby and timely empties the breast, lactostasis will not become a problem for her.

Causes of lactostasis.

Any reason for the violation of the normal outflow of milk on the dairy moves is also the cause of lactostasis. The most frequent of them are the wrong feeding of the baby by the breast and non-compliance with the rules of manual emptying of the mammary glands (pumping), viz.

– Restriction of the child’s stay at the breast. Not all babies can be saturated quickly, feeding time for each individually. If the baby eats properly, the breast is emptied well, if there is a lot of milk left after feeding, lactostasis may develop.

– During feeding, women should not squeeze the breast with their fingers. This applies when the nipple is clamped between the index and middle fingers (the so-called “scissors”), and the fingers are pressed into the chest.

– Rare feeding. Feedings should be arranged in such a way that the mammary glands do not overflow with milk. Some women believe that the baby will drink more milk if it is well hungry, and put it to the breast less often. Meanwhile, the baby will drink exactly as much as it can, and excess milk “stuck” in the milk ducts and provokes the process of lactostasis.

– Incorrect position of the body of the mother and / or baby during breastfeeding.

– Excessive aggressive pumping after and between feeds stimulates the production of additional milk that the baby does not need and will remain in the gland after feeding.

– Premature introduction to the diet of artificial mixtures can cause the child to refuse breastfeeding and the subsequent stagnation of accumulated unused milk.

– Refusal of breastfeeding.

Much less often, lactostasis can occur due to the presence of narrow milk ducts, which are a variant of the normal anatomical structure of the breast in some women. If a woman has flat nipples, the child does not completely grasp them when feeding and poorly empties the breast.

It is important for nursing mothers to choose the right underwear. A tight bra squeezes the mammary glands and provokes lactostasis. Refuse to wear a bra is not possible – a freely hanging down breast will fill with milk faster and more.

The habit of sleeping on the stomach increases the likelihood of lactostasis.

Nursing mothers should avoid stressful situations, they can provoke disturbances in the rhythm of milk production.

Symptoms and signs of lactostasis.

Lactostasis is not a disease, unlike its complication – mastitis. All changes with lactostasis are one-sided. In maternity females, lactostasis is much less common.

Lactostasis usually develops on the 5th-10th day after delivery. The earlier a woman pays attention to the dysfunctions in the mammary gland, the more chances she has to avoid undesirable consequences. At the very first stage of development of lactostasis, attention is drawn to the atypical flow of milk from the breast during decantation: the milk jet looks thinner and / or flows intermittently. During feeding the child can behave restlessly: the baby has to make more efforts to get the necessary amount of milk, he quickly gets tired and does not eat. As the process of stagnation worsens, the amount of expressed milk can significantly decrease (or completely cease from one of the lobes), and the expressing itself with lactostasis becomes painful.

During self-examination of mammary glands, there is an increase in the size of one breast. In this mammary gland, the compaction site is defined, sometimes similar to a “ball” or “flat cake” without clear boundaries. The seal can sometimes be moderately painful, and the skin above it looks inflamed, with a pronounced vascular pattern due to swelling. The stagnation zone can move around the chest and change its dimensions.

Lactostasis does not significantly affect a woman’s well-being. There is a feeling of heaviness or overflow in the mammary gland. The temperature with lactostasis is often within normal limits or increases slightly (no higher than 37.4 ° C). High temperature with lactostasis indicates infection attachment.

Do not confuse lactostasis and mastitis. Since lactostasis is the cause of lactational mastitis and precedes it, it is very important to understand the differences of these conditions.

– Lactostasis is not a disease, but a short-term condition of the mammary glands. Mastitis is a disease that requires serious attention and treatment.

– The condition of a woman with lactostasis does not suffer, with mastitis it always changes for the worse. Expressed pains in the mammary gland, fever, presence of inflammation or purulent process are characteristic only for mastitis.

– Symptoms of lactostasis can completely pass or significantly decrease as a result of mere emptying of the breast. Mastitis can be eliminated only with the help of medicamentous, and often surgical methods of therapy.

If against the background of lactostasis the woman’s state of health worsens, it is necessary to consult a specialist.

Treatment of lactostasis.

Lactostasis should be disposed of as early as possible. The main principle of therapy is the restoration of normal outflow of milk. For this, sometimes it is enough to change the feeding regime and more often to express the milk.

Sometimes women completely refuse the newborn in feeding, fearing that milk with lactostasis becomes “harmful”. This error occurs if nursing mothers lactostasis is confused with purulent mastitis, in which they really are not allowed to feed the baby. If lactostasis is not more than three days, you should not be afraid of feeding the baby. However, it should be noted that the “older” lactostasis, the more difficult it is for the baby to empty the breast.

Important for lactostasis is the position of the baby during feeding: his chin should always be directed towards compaction of the breast. On the question of the number of feeds an unambiguous answer can not be given, since it is regulated exclusively by the child: if he is not hungry, he will simply give up the breast. The optimal rhythm of breastfeeding with lactostasis is applying to the breast at least every two hours, but in real life it happens in all different ways. Initially, the child should be given a “sick” chest. Before feeding it is recommended to “warm up” the mammary gland. To do this, a warm shower or a warm compress will do. As a compress, you can use a cloth soaked in warm water, which wraps the chest for 10-15 minutes. Heat contributes to the expansion and relaxation of the milk ducts.

Well proven breast massage.

If the seals are significantly expressed, you should try to express the milk before feeding. Expressing with lactostasis has a therapeutic effect, in some cases it is sufficient to eliminate milk stagnation. During the decantation, a woman can see how a thick “milk stopper” departs, after which the outflow of milk from the affected breast is restored. If lactostasis can not be eliminated, after expressing this breast should feed the child. After feeding on the chest, you can put a cool (not cold!) Compress for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce swelling and remove discomfort. For this purpose, a fabric (for example, a towel), soaked in cool water or a cooler, may come up. To the breast with a site of lactostasis to put the baby is more often.

Do not forget about a healthy breast. It should be monitored for proper emptying and applying to her baby in order to avoid the development of milk stagnation and in it.

Pumping with lactostasis should be done very carefully, so as not to damage the milk ducts. Too frequent expression can provoke excessive production of milk, so after each feeding, decant milk is not recommended, it is enough to do it no more than three times a day. After elimination of lactostasis, additional pumping should be canceled.

Some mothers try to liquidate lactostasis independently with the help of various medicines. The most popular and erroneous of them are compresses with alcohol, vodka or camphor. All these tools can not only exacerbate the process, but also cause inflammatory reactions. Alcohol can completely stop lactation, and camphor, if ingested in breast milk, can also harm the baby.

Sometimes women ask if it is possible to use any ointment with lactostasis to eliminate milk stagnation. During feeding with lactostasis, the baby has to make great efforts, which sometimes leads to the appearance of cracks and irritation of the nipple’s skin. In this case, the ointment with lactostasis is used to accelerate the healing of such lesions. Pick the right ointment will help your doctor or health nurse. The use of antibacterial ointments in the absence of signs of inflammation and infection is inexpedient.

If the first 2-3 days to eliminate lactostasis alone can not, you need to seek medical help.

Massage with lactostasis.

Increasing the outflow of milk is facilitated by massaging movements from the periphery towards the nipple. Self-massage should be easy and do not cause severe soreness. Too aggressive massaging movements can damage the overflowing milk ducts.

Two types of hand movements are used: stroking and rubbing. It is better to massage in the shower, with the participation of warm water, before feeding or decanting.

Training of breast massage skills in lactostasis is carried out by specialists. A nurse visiting mother and child at home also has the skills of breast massage and can teach him how to do it correctly. Massage is useful if it is done correctly and in a timely manner.

Prevention of lactostasis.

Timely emptying of the mammary glands is the most reliable measure for preventing lactostasis and preventing mastitis.

Coping with signs of lactostasis can be done with simple actions.

– Try to release the “sick” breasts from the milk in a short time – put the baby to her more often and decant the remaining milk between the feedings. Remember that pumping immediately after feeding causes a new inflow of milk.

– Rude massage and aggressive pumping will harm your condition.

– Do not apply “warming” compresses or antibacterial ointments to the composting areas.

– Look after the nipples and skin of the breast to prevent the appearance of cracks.

– If symptoms of lactostasis worsen, consult a specialist.

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