Common Lactation Issues: Part 1

Jan 16, 2023
Common Lactation Issues: Part 1
Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients.

Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we welcome you. We cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness—The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you! Our offices are open and our staff is prepared to answer any questions you may have about your health, your breast cancer risk, and how to reach your aesthetic goals. 

At The Breast Place, we offer several oncoplastic surgical procedures, such as natural reconstruction, nipple-sparing mastectomy, Hidden Scar™, implant reconstruction, and breast lift with or without reduction. Oncoplastic surgery is distinct from both breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery–though you initially assume oncoplastic surgery to be a mixture of both. Rather, the aim of oncoplastic breast surgery is “to achieve good aesthetic outcomes for women with breast cancers who would have unacceptable outcomes with other BCS techniques, and in addition, enable breast-conserving surgery for larger breast cancers.” While breast cancer surgery prioritizes the eradication of cancerous tissue and plastic surgery prioritizes the cosmetic appearance of the breasts, oncoplastic surgery takes both of these aspects into account when planning for the final outcome. You can find out more information about what to look for in an Oncoplastic surgeon here. 

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy weight as well as how you can do so. We have all heard about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and staying in shape, but your weight can also affect your risk of developing breast cancer. Studies have shown that overweight women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause. If you are interested in learning more about the link between excess weight and breast cancer, be sure to check out our last post!

Before we continue with today’s topic, we’d like to make you aware of what we have to offer at The Breast Place this month. It’s a new year, and there’s no better time than now to treat yourself! For January, we are offering $50 off Emsculpt NEO for body contouring, as well as 20% off all EltaMD skincare products! If you or a loved one is interested in body contouring or you want to enhance your skincare routine, January is the perfect time to get started! These specials are for the month of January only, so don’t miss out on these deals. Reach out to us if you have any questions or would like more information!

Today, we’ll be discussing some of the most common lactation issues. Many women face a variety of challenges when it comes to breastfeeding. At the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, you may encounter obstacles, but they generally get easier with time. For some women, the issues may continue even after they are finished breastfeeding. It is important to remember that the breastfeeding process is different for everyone. Therefore, you may experience some of these challenges, or none at all. If you are interested in learning more about lactation issues, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started.

What is lactation?

First, let’s take a look at what lactation actually is. Lactation refers to the process of making human milk, which is secreted through the mammary glands. Mammary glands are milk-producing glands in the breast designed to feed offspring. Lactation begins naturally in pregnancy, jump started by hormonal changes that signal the glands to begin producing milk for your baby. The process of these hormonal changes is known as lactogenesis. Mammary glands have several parts that all work together during the lactation process. These parts include:

  • Alveoli: Small sacs that produce and store milk. A cluster of alveoli is known as lobules, and each lobule connects to a lobe. 
  • Milk ducts: Each lobe is connected to a milk duct, which carries milk from the lobules to the nipples.
  • Areola: The dark area surrounding your nipple which lets your body know when to release milk.
  • Nipple: The nipple contains several small pores that secrete milk. The nerves on the nipple respond to stimulation that tells the brain to release milk from the alveoli through the milk ducts and out of the nipple.

What are some common lactation issues?

Now that we understand how lactation works, let’s take a look at some of the most common lactation issues that women face. 

Soreness or tenderness

While most women are able to breastfeed without any pain, sometimes the nipples and/or breasts become sore and tender. This is especially common during the first week or so of breastfeeding. The cause of nipple soreness or tenderness can be poor feeding techniques, the wrong position of the baby while breastfeeding, or not taking proper care of your nipples. For some women, a simple change in the baby’s position can eliminate this issue. Also be sure that you are taking care of your nipples, especially if they are dry. Try massaging a few drops of breast milk onto your nipples before or after breastfeeding– This helps moisturize and creates a barrier that can protect the nipples from infection. You may also try ointments such as lanolin. If soreness or pain persists, reach out to a medical professional or lactation specialist.

Clogged ducts

A clogged or plugged milk duct is a common breastfeeding issue. This means that the milk duct is not draining properly. A clogged duct generally feels like a tender, sore lump in the breast, and may be coupled with symptoms of tenderness, heat or redness in one area of the breast. Sometimes, a tiny white dot can be seen at the opening of the duct on the nipple. There are several causes of clogged ducts, including severe engorgement, regularly breastfeeding on the same breast or only one breast, skipping feedings, or pressure against the milk ducts, such as wearing a bra that is too tight. Sometimes, gently massaging the area can help remove the plugged duct. You can also try taking a hot shower or applying warm compresses over the duct. 


Mastitis is a breast infection that may feel like a clogged duct. It can also cause muscle aches, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. For some women, mastitis can cause a yellow-colored discharge coming from the nipple, and the breast may feel hot to the touch. The main cause of mastitis is milk that is trapped in the breast, but it can also be caused by bacteria from skin or saliva making its way into the breast tissue. Having cracked and sore nipples can increase your risk of developing mastitis. You can try to resolve mastitis by using some of the same techniques used for clogged ducts, but if you do not feel better within 24 hours, you should see a specialist. Treatment often includes antibiotics for the infection and getting rest. Breast milk is safe for the baby even when you have mastitis, so you can continue feeding as normal.

As you can see, these are just a few of the common issues women face regarding lactation. Be sure to check back for part 2, where we discuss other issues including fungal infections, low milk supply, engorgement, and more. We hope you found this article informative, and we encourage you to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns. Our lactation specialists are here to help! Here at The Breast Place, we are dedicated to providing services and education surrounding breast health. We offer breast imaging services and provide consultations, clinical breast exams, and dedicated treatment plans. We also encourage you to check out our aesthetics and wellness clinic, Empower, which is dedicated to helping you feel more confident in your skin. Empower offers injectable treatments such as Botox, Juvéderm, and Dysport, as well as other facial rejuvenation services such as laser treatment and more! Additionally, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us for a consultation if you have any questions or concerns pertaining to our service areas– We are committed to empowering women, and we are proud to offer treatments and products to help you look and feel your best. Thank you for taking the time to read today’s article and we hope you’ll check back in for future posts about treatments, wellness, and more!