Do you know what is one of breastfeeding mom’s nightmare? It is getting clogged milk ducts, ouch…
With baby no 3, I frequently got clogged ducts during the early weeks. Trust me, it’s a lot of discomfort and pain. I tried so many things to quickly resolve that, but some ways are simply not effective.
Want to know things that helps clear my clogged ducts? In this article, I explain every method that I used and it’s efficacy.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is clogged duct?
- 2 Why you get a clogged duct
- 3 How do you know you have clogged ducts
- 4 Ten ways to relieve pain from clogged ducts and resolve it:
What is clogged duct?
Based on Kellymom, a clogged duct is an area of breast where milk flow is obstructed. The obstruction may occur on the nipple pore or further back in the ductal system.
Why you get a clogged duct
Basically, you may get a clogged duct when your breast are not drained properly. This may occur due to:
- Poor latch.
- Infrequent feeding
- Skipped pumping schedule
- Milk over production
- Tight-fitting clothes
How do you know you have clogged ducts
You feel there’s hard lumps in your breast. The area feels tender to touch and warm. On the outer appearance, sometimes it looks reddish.
Why clogged duct is bad for your supply?
When you get a clogged duct, some part of milk stays inside your breast and that makes breast is not emptied thoroughly. When breast is not empty, it sends signal to reduce your milk production and thus your supply may gradually become lower.
Additionally, untreated clogged ducts may lead to mastitis (breast infection). Therefore, it is best to resolve clogged duct as quickly as possible.
Ten ways to relieve pain from clogged ducts and resolve it:
1. Cabbage leaves
Have you ever heard suggestion of cabbage leave compress? Cabbage leaves are traditionally used to relieve the pain from clogged ducts.
How: Use cabbage leaves as cold compress in between feeding. Apply it for max 20 minutes to relieve the pain.
Efficacy: Does it help in resolving the clog itself? The result varies. Some of my friends said yes, but I didn’t get any result from cabbage leaves alone.
2. Warm compress shortly before nursing and pumping
By applying moist heat from the warm compress, it encourages much better milk flow and in combination with nursing / pumping the affected breast.
How: apply warm compress 20 minutes before nursing / pumping. You can use a reusable breast compress such as Therapearl or warm rice sock (put in microwave for 30 seconds before using).
Efficacy: yes, it does help clear clogged ducts faster.
3. Nurse from the affected breast first
This is not easy because of the pain. And perhaps the baby will fuss because the flow is slightly slower due to the clogged ducts. But trust me, if you can be persistent in offering your baby the affected breast first while nursing, your clogged duct may clear up much quickly.
How: always offer affected breast first for nursing
Efficacy: great, especially when you combine it with massaging while nursing.
Perhaps your baby does not remove milk from the breast thoroughly. Or you simply have more than enough for your baby. In either case, you can try to pump after feeding to relieve engorgement from the clogged ducts.
How: Pumping after feeding while massaging breast at the same time
Efficacy: very good. If your baby has trouble removing milk from the breast, this is a good way to resolve the clogged ducts. When it is cleared up, you may see strings of hardened milk coming out from the breast.
5. Massage under hot shower
This is my favorite. The hot shower acts like the heat that helps to clear the clogs. As you shower, massage your breast starting from the nipple back to the affected area. Hand express the milk so that the clogged ducts has empty milk passage ahead. Some moms use comb or electric toothbrush to replace the kneading motion. This also helps to clear the clogged duct faster.
How: massage breast under hot shower with hand, electric toothbrush or comb. Hand express if possible
Efficacy: I noticed the more frequent I do this, the faster my clogged ducts clears up.
6. Ask somebody else to massage your breast
Sometimes, it is too painful to massage the affected breast by ourselves. In this case, ask someone else to massage for you. If you have access to a lactation consultant, that would be the best case. Otherwise, your husband can help with the massage, too.
How: apply baby oil to the affected area. Then massage the breast starting from the nipple back to the lump area. Use kneading motion to help to break the clogs. You can use a silicon pump to collect any dripping milk as somebody else massages your breast.
Efficacy: very good, but can be painful
If you have recurrent clogged ducts, you may invest on Lavie massager. This battery-operated massager vibrates to promote better milk flow. Additionally, you can also use it to replace traditional kneading motion to the lump area. A lot of mothers swears by its effectiveness.
How: use Lavie massager on the affected breast.
Efficacy: very good, helps to clear clogged ducts quickly.
8. Sunflower lecithin
Believe it or not, lecithin can help to reduce the viscosity / stickiness of your milk so that it flows easily. When I got clogged ducts, I routinely consumed sunflower lecithin (I Use Nowfood brand but heard that Legendairymilk lecithin is more powerful).
How: consume sunflower lecithin 3x a day
Efficacy: very good. When I felt lump in my breast, I quickly consume lecithin and the clogged duct disappeared much faster compared with if I didn’t take lecithin at all. For prevention, you can also consume it once a day.
9.Haakaa + warm water + Epsom salt.
I’ve recently heard about this method from LegendairyMilk IG account.
How: What you need to do is to fill your Haakaa / silicon pump with warm water and Epsom salt. Then latch to your affected breast while nursing / pumping at the other side. The Haakaa will help you to get rid of the clogged duct fairly quickly. You can do this trick for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Efficacy: A lot of moms have tried this and said it’s working at the first time. Sometimes you need to do it a few times in combination of pumping to empty the breast thoroughly.
10. Change your nursing position
Help the milk flow by changing your nursing position. If you usually use cradle position, try football position or even nursing on all fours (dangling nursing). The gravity will help your milk duct opened up as your baby latches on.
How: alter nursing position
Efficacy: sometimes this works, but sometimes not. Nursing on all fours is especially recommended doing because the gravity helps milk flow.
If nothing works and your clogged ducts becomes worse followed with high fever, quickly visit the nearest lactation consultant. The consultant there may help to massage your breast to clear the clogged ducts. If necessary, she may prescribe some medication for you.
So, that’s it. I know you may not have time to try them all. But I highly recommend doing a few ways above to resolve your clogged duct quickly. Personally, I prefer combination of 2, 3, 5, and 8. I haven’t tried number 9 because I learnt about this technique after my baby was older, and thus I didn’t experience anymore clogged ducts.
Now onto you. Which methods help you to clear clogged duct faster? Feel free to share your story with me in the comment.