When you’re a woman, let alone a mom, you expect a degree of breast pain from time to time. However, some issues are more severe than others. Do you want to learn how to clear a clogged milk duct? Perhaps you’re wondering if you can prevent them or need to call the doctor. Don’t worry too much. Most cases resolve within a day or two, and home remedies generally help.
What Causes Clogged Milk Ducts? What Are the Signs?
Clogged ducts occur when something keeps your breast from draining. Common causes include overly tight bras or infrequent feedings. If your baby prefers one breast over the other, you could experience trouble with the one that sees less use. If your baby doesn’t get effective suction, this also increases your risk. Genetics might play a role, and you run a higher chance of clogged ducts if you experienced them in previous pregnancies. Smoking and poor diet also ups your odds of having this problem.
If you get a clogged duct, you’ll most likely know it. The area will become sore to the touch and red. You’ll feel a lump, which may move, and you may develop a blister on your nipple. Since infrequent feedings can increase your risk, it’s critical to talk to your boss if you plan to return to work soon after giving birth. Tell them, “I need to pump every three hours, but here is my plan for staying on top of my tasks.”
Can They Cause Additional Health Problems?
Usually, clogged ducts resolve independently, but they can cause considerable distress in the meantime. Nevertheless, they can pose dangers. Remain on the alert for the following symptoms:
- Fever: Anything over 101 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern.
- Flu-like symptoms: You might feel lethargic and develop widespread body aches.
- Wedge-shaped redness: The area can become engorged, and you might develop thickened breast tissue.
If you leave a severely clogged duct untreated, you may develop an infection and pus. This buildup often requires surgical intervention to drain, so you must take action as soon as possible.
Strategies for Clearing a Clogged Duct
If you experience pain, how can you clear a clogged milk duct? Try these home remedies to find relief.
1. Empty Often
You have to get on a regular feeding schedule, as chaotic as it may seem — especially during uncertain times. For the first month, your baby needs to nurse as often as eight to 12 times per day. After that, they typically drop back to seven to nine. During the earliest weeks, you want to feed on demand, but you and your baby will gradually develop a routine together. Don’t go for more than four hours without feeding, even at night.
2. Use Warmth
A warm compress can soften the clog and make it more comfortable to remove. You can use a standard heating pad wrapped in a towel to protect your skin. Alternatively, you can dampen a clean cloth diaper, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, then use that to warm the area. After warming, try nursing your baby to see if they can suck out the stuck bit.
3. Massage the Area
You never want to squeeze a clogged duct like a pimple, as this can allow bacteria to enter, setting you up for an infection. However, gentle massage might do the trick. You can perform it on yourself using your hands, or enlist the help of a vibrator. Hey, if it works, don’t mock it!
4. Change Nursing Positions
This position might cause you to feel like Elsie the Cow, but dangle-feeding is a proven technique for clearing clogs. To perform this, lie your baby on their back and kneel over them on all fours while you feed them. Take a tip from your favorite yoga class and use cushions and other props to make the pose more comfortable.
5. Employ Epsom Salts
Like you needed an excuse to lose yourself in a hot bath, you busy mom, you. Epsom salts relax your muscles, but they can also help you remove a clog. The steam doesn’t hurt, either, as it causes your ducts to expand. Close the bathroom door, put on some relaxing music and soak away your pain for 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Try Using Lecithin
Scientists aren’t sure exactly how lecithin, a substance found in broccoli and eggs, remedies clogged ducts. However, they suspect that it increases the fatty acids in milk, making it more comfortable to express. Fortunately, you can find tons of supplements on the market. Strive to get at least 1,200 milligrams four times per day while you breastfeed.
7. Employ an Electric Toothbrush
If you have an old soft-bristle electric toothbrush, take it in the shower with you. The combination of the steam and the gentle rotation could sweep the clog right down the drain.
8. Grab Your Partner
This suggestion wins for the ick factor. However, if your partner is willing, they can provide far more suction than your average pump. Who says you outgrow a little love-bite action — especially when it relieves pain?
How to Clear Your Clogged Milk Duct and Banish Breast Pain
If you get a clogged duct, you don’t need to suffer. Try these home remedies and give your physician a call if the problem persists.