How to get rid of a clogged milk duct while Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful journeys all nursing mothers must undergo.
Sometimes it comes with joy, some with frustration, and some with pain.
Are you a mother who is in a movie on this journey and you are experiencing difficulty pumping or feeding your baby due to clogged milk ducts?
Yes, I understand that clogged milk ducts are usually painful and can lead to mastitis if they are not well checked and taken care of.
Here is everything you need to know about clogging milk ducts, what it is, how to tell if you have a blocked duct, ways to treat it, and how to prevent it in the future.
What is a clogged milk duct
A clogged milk duct, also known as a blocked duct or a plugged duct, is a condition that develops when a portion of the milk flow leaving your breast is blocked, causing the milk behind it to become trapped.
What causes this milk duct backup?
Sometimes, common causes of clogged milk ducts could be when the breast milk has not been completely expelled from the breast during pumping and breastfeeding.
Another reason could be when the breast is irritated by either a tight bra when one is sleeping on the chest or something is rubbing against the breast like a baby's bag etc.
What symptoms should you watch out for if you have a clogged breast duct?
Small, uncomfortable lumps in your breast that are hard and painful are some of the symptoms and indicators of a blocked breast duct.
Perhaps there is a lump nearby that is red, warm to the touch, and sore.
After feeding, there may be some alleviation from the breast's tenderness.
In most cases, just one breast is impacted.
Because the other ducts nearby may collapse under the strain of the clogged duct, the flow of milk out of the damaged breast may be slower.
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How to get rid of a clogged milk duct
Unfortunately, a clog won't go away on its own if you get one.
And it must be eliminated before it may spread and become an infection.
Fortunately, there are many methods available to aid in resuming milk production.
Try one or all of them! Here are our preferred techniques for getting rid of clogs:
1. Nurse or pump more frequently using the correct position
Breasts that are not emptied frequently enough are one of the most frequent causes of clogged milk ducts.
So the best course of action to help you clear your duct is to get the milk flowing frequently, whether by breastfeeding or pumping.
Whenever possible, breastfeed or pump more frequently than every two hours.
Offer them the unclogged breast first if one of your breasts has been clogged.
Since they are the most hungry, their sucking will be heavier on the injured breast in this manner.
Always be sure to posture your infant properly while nursing, since this is essential for efficient milk evacuation.
2. Massage the affected breast by hands or electric messenger
Try using a circular motion to manually massage the obstructed duct.
Gently massage in the direction of the lump and on the lump after beginning outside of the lump's location.
Then, proceed to the nipple region.
Alternatively, you can massage by gently rubbing the affected area from the farthest end toward the nipple with your thumb.
You can use the same methods with any electric massager, an electric toothbrush, or a device created specifically for lactation.
Focus on the obstruction and move toward the nipple just like you would if you were massaging with your hands.
3. Use of warm compress
Use of a warm compress before feeding your baby can assist unclog your milk duct and encourage the flow of breast milk.
If you can't afford one of the warm compresses made specifically for breasts, use your hand towel instead.
Wrap it around your breast after wetting it with hot tap water.
For at least 15-20 minutes at a time, or as long as the washcloth remains warm, leave it on the breast.
Apply the warm compress once more every several hours after that.
This method works very well to stimulate breast milk production just before feeding the infant.
4. Take a relaxing warm shower
How do you do this? Never worry because it is very simple.
Turn on your shower and stand under it.
Allow the stream from a warm shower to assist in clearing the obstruction by standing underneath it so the water hits the troublesome area.
The pressure and heat will aid in clearing the obstruction, and as an added perk, a warm shower is soothing.
While taking a shower, hand-expressing milk or employing hand-massaging the breast along with a switched warm shower will assist in clearing the clog.
5. Utilize gravity to your benefit.
I doubt if you know that the force of gravity has a role to play in breastfeeding. Let's see how that can be possible.
"Dangle feeding" is one method of nursing a child that can aid in clearing a blockage. This entails breastfeeding while hunched over the infant or situating the infant to feed from beneath the breast so gravity can help clear your duct.
You can try a similar method when pumping: pump while stooping so that your nipples point downward and the milk can fall naturally.
Doing these two can help prevent clogged areas during breastfeeding with ease.
6. Utilize Epsom salts
According to some mothers, bathing the breasts in a warm Epsom salt bath for 10 to 20 minutes is another way on how to get rid of a clogged milk duct.
Other mothers have used a Haakaa, a manual suction-style breast pump, and half-filled it with hot water and a tablespoon or two of Epsom salts. Following that, they immersed the nipple in the salt solution while allowing suction to attach to the pump.
They then left the pump attached for 10 to 15 minutes.
You can try this as a breastfeeding mother with a clogged milk duct, trust me it is a good one though.
7. Use of supplement
The use of supplements like Lecithin will help make the milk less "sticky" so it flows more smoothly.
Sunflower lecithin is a good brand frequently used by mothers who discover that their babies cannot take soy lecithin.
And truth be told, clogs can be avoided with routine dosing.
But please consult your doctor before taking any supplements as a breastfeeding mother.
8. Use of ice
Another amazing way ono how to get rid of a clogged milk duct is to tuck an ice pack into your bra to reduce pain and swelling. For this use, the gel ice packs with soft covers designed for children's bruising and bumps work will work perfectly well
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A clogged milk duct should clear up in 24 hours if you've tried at least some of the methods mentioned above, but if it returns or persists with other symptoms in addition to a painful lump, such as a fever, chills, flu-like aching, and malaise, it may also be a sign of mastitis caused by the clogged ducts.
Therefore, it's crucial to start treating one as soon as you see one to prevent the development of mastitis.
If you suspect mastitis, you should consult your doctor because it requires medical care and prescription medication to clear.