Sam Faiers reveals breastfeeding pain 'shut body down' – what is a blocked milk duct?

Sam Faiers. (Getty Images)
Sam Faiers had to spend the day recovering in bed after experiencing a blocked milk duct. (Getty Images)

Sam Faiers has revealed that she suffered from a breastfeeding complication that sent her "whole body into shutdown".

Just weeks after welcoming her third child in May, the TOWIE star, 31, said she felt "really tender pain" in her right breast, followed by an array of scary symptoms that she later found out were caused by a blocked milk duct.

Posting a picture of her newborn son in her arms to her Instagram story, she wrote, "Ok so last night I started to feel a really tender pain in my right breast. Then my whole body went into shutdown. I was shivering and cold. My bones were aching. It was like flue like symptoms."

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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Sam Faiers attends ITV Palooza! at The Royal Festival Hall on November 23, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Sam Faiers is known for documenting her life as a mum, also star of reality show The Mummy Diaries. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

She added, "So I basically had a blocked milk duct..I've never experienced that before. It was soo painful. Today I've rested in bed all day..I took two warm baths (the warm water helps with the blocked duct).

"I let the baby feed all day on the effected breast to try and clear the blockage.

"Anyway I feel a million times better this evening after a full day of rest. But wow that was so painful. I feel like the duct is released. Just going to keep a close eye on it."

Faiers rounded off her post by asking if any of her 2.5 million followers had ever experienced this before, prompting other new mums to send in tips and tricks of what helped them to relieve the duct, with some suggesting an electric toothbrush massaging the area could help.

It's also wise to consult a medical professional on what the most effective methods of treatment are.

She also posted a short clip of her recovering in bed with her baby. "My little sweetie has laid with me all day. He's been so content. It's like he knew mumma wasn't well," she wrote.

What is a blocked breast milk duct?

There are many different reasons why you might experience breast pain while breastfeeding, with blocked breast milk ducts being one of them.

The milk-making glands in your breasts are divided up into segments, like an orange, and narrow tubes called ducts carry the milk from each segment to your nipple, the NHS website explains.

So, if one of the segments isn't properly drained during a feed (which could be because your baby isn't attached properly), this can lead to a blocked duct.

A sign of a blocked milk duct could be if you experience a small, tender lump in your breast.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: (L-R) Sam Faiers and Paul Knightley attend ITV Palooza! at The Royal Festival Hall on November 23, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Sam Faiers and her partner Paul Knightley already share two other children. (Getty Images)

"This needs relieving as soon as possible, and your baby may be able to help, " Bridget Halnan, infant feeding lead in Cambridgeshire and Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting, told the NHS.

"If possible, place them with their chin pointing towards the lump so they can feed from that part of the breast."

It's also advised to avoid wearing tight clothes or bras to allow milk to flow freely from every part of your breast.

What is mastitis?

It's important to tend to a block milk duct as soon as possible, to prevent mastitis (inflammation in the breast), which happens when the blockage isn't relieved.

If you don't deal with the early signs, it can turn into an infection and you'll need to take antibiotics. If you do have mastitis, you might experience a breast that feels hot and tender, a red patch of skin that's painful to touch, a general feeling of illness, like flu (as Faiers described), feeling achy, tired and tearful and a high temperature, among other symptoms.

"This can happen suddenly, and can get worse quickly," added Halnan. "It's important to carry on breastfeeding as this will help to speed your recovery."

Faiers and her partner Paul Knightley announced they had welcomed their baby boy on 15 May with a sweet video featuring fire works, her in a birthing pool at home, and their other children greeting him.

"My whole world. No words can describe how in love we are with you baby boy," she wrote at the time. "I honestly can't explain my feelings right now. Mummy loves you more than you could ever imagine. Currently in our baby bubble, be back soon."

The reality star has been regularly posting updates of being a new mum again, speaking candidly about what it's like to juggle three children, her first time leaving the house since the baby was born and reassuring and encouraging other new parents.

The couple already share their daughter Rosie, four, and son, also Paul, six. They have not yet announced the name of the latest addition to their family.

After reassuring fans she had recovered from the blocked duct, Faiers later shared snaps of her getting some much "needed" fresh air outside.

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Paul Knightley and Samantha Faiers attend the VIP Screening of Two By Two Overboard! at Everyman Chelsea in London. (Photo by Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Paul Knightley and Sam Faiers with their son Paul and daughter Rosie. (Getty Images)

How to help a blocked milk duct

While mastitis is most common in breastfeeding women, men and women who are not breastfeeding can also get it.

If you're developing a blocked duct or mastitis, the NHS suggests trying:

  • Checking your baby's positioning and attachment (ask your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist to watch a feed)

  • Continue breastfeeding

  • Let your baby feed on the tender breast first

  • If the affected breast still feels full after a feed, or your baby can't feed, express your milk by hand

  • Use a warm flannel or a warm bath or shower to help the milk flow

  • Get as much rest as you can (go to bed if you can)

  • Drink lots of fluids

  • Massage your breast to clear any blockages (stroke from the lumpy sore area towards your nipple)

  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the pain

When to get help for a blocked milk duct or mastitis

See a GP if you do not feel better within 24 hours despite continuing to breastfeeding, you get mastitis and are are not breastfeeding, or your symptoms do not get any better 48 hours after taking antibiotics.

Breast pain while breastfeeding may also be caused by breast engorgement, too much breast milk, breast abscess and thrush.

Watch: Dax Shepard recalls unclogging Kristen Bell's breast when she was breastfeeding