Clogged milk ducts affect many women at some time throughout their nursing time. They are unpleasant and can result in mastitis if not treated promptly.
So, how to tell if you are suffering from clogged milk ducts? How to unclog a milk duct fast? What can you do to prevent this problem?
Let’s follow this article, and you’ll be able to stay healthy while nursing your baby!
What Do Clogged Milk Ducts Feel Like?
Milk passes via a pipe-like system of tubes in your breasts when you are breastfeeding your baby. A blockage may occur if a duct becomes clogged or milk has difficulty passing through it, leading to a clogged duct.
If your breast isn’t entirely empty after a feeding session, if your kid misses a meal, or if you’re stressed, you could get a clogged milk duct.
Symptoms appear gradually and mainly affect only one breast. You can check these symptoms to tell if you have such a problem or not.
- A lump on the part of your breast
- Lump engorgement
- Swelling or pain near the lump
- Discomfort after pumping or feeding
- Discomfort during letdown
- Milk blister on your nipple
- Lump movement over time
You may notice a temporary drop in your milk supply when your breast duct gets clogged. When you extract your milk, you may see grains or strings of fatty or thickened liquid.
Best Ways To Get Rid Of A Clogged Milk Duct
To prevent a breast infection, get treatment for your clogged milk duct as soon as possible. What you should do is as follows.
1. Dangle Pumping
Dangle feeding is when you nurse your child while bending over him to allow gravity to help break up the blockage.
Many people may tell you that this strategy can help you clear a blockage, but dangle feeding isn’t accurate when you’re only pumping.
Alternatively, you might consider dangle pumping for a clogged duct, which is about pumping while leaning over with your nipples pointing towards the floor.
Nursing women should continue to breastfeed their babies and ensure that they adequately extract the breast milk if they have a clogged milk duct.
You might also try nursing your baby every two hours on the affected side. This tip will assist in maintaining milk production and may help with the milking.
When coping with this problem, the aim is to keep milk pumping. The breast pads are great for keeping clothes free of stains while breastfeeding on the go.
Besides, the ultra-absorbent structure and honeycomb top sheet can keep your clothes clean and comfortable.
3. Ask Your Partner to Help
Some breastfeeding moms have successfully used their partner’s suction to relieve the clogged milk duct. It could work if you feel desperate and your spouse is willing.
4. Massage and Heat
You should softly rub your breasts, making your way toward the nipples before each breastfeeding. This tip helps boost milk flow well. After the feeding session, you can express the clogged breast duct to extract any leftover milk, ensuring thorough drainage.
Milk flow can avoid clogged ducts. However, there may be times when moms can’t be with their babies during feedings. In this case, manually pressing milk is beneficial to enhance milk production. Consider a manual breast pump to help you pump milk whenever and wherever you want.
A warm compress might also help ease some of the soreness in the painful breast. Try applying a warm, wet cloth to the clogged area numerous times a day and massage your breast gently.
It’s an excellent idea to take a warm shower. Allow the water to run over your breasts while applying pressure to the obstructed area with your fingertips.
5. Use a Comb
Run a tooth comb over the clogged breast while taking a shower. The comb can help unclog the milk duct and boost flow.
Apply slight pressure to the comb, but not too much that you end up with bruising. There’s no reason to exacerbate the situation.
6. Find the Right Position
Positioning your child’s chin towards the clogged breast may be beneficial.
Breastfeeding in this manner encourages your baby to focus his feeding on the clogged breast, resulting in fewer pores on the breasts.
It may also be beneficial to experiment with different nursing positions for the child to take all of the milk from all parts of your breast.
7. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Applying too much pressure on your breasts for a lengthy period is one of the reasons for the clogged duct. Tight clothing or bras can induce such pressure. Hence, wearing loose-fitting clothing can alleviate a blocked duct.
Besides, tighter clothing encourages perspiration and makes it harder for sweat to escape, resulting in clogged pores. Wearing comfortable clothing, in this case, can support unclogging the pores and ducts.
8. Apply Coconut Oil
You can rub this oil into the breasts and up into the armpits, paying specific attention to the blocked area. In addition, using coconut oil on your sore nipples can also work.
When you choose this method, the tissue relaxes, and, more significantly, the discomfort subsides.
9. Use Potatoes
This idea is similar to the previous one. After applying the coconut oil, you can add some sliced potatoes on top. After that, wear a bra to keep the slices in place. You can also use grated potatoes for the same effect.
Cover the slices with a clean cloth if you don’t want to put on your bra. Then, leave the potatoes there for about one hour and replace them with new slices if needed.
10. Try Sunflower Lecithin
Follow the directions on the package to take non-GMO sunflower lecithin. This solution will thin the milk and minimize stickiness to treat the clogged duct.
You can use this supplement as a precautionary step. It improves brain function and therefore is beneficial.
11. Take Ibuprofen
12. See Your Doctor
Although a blocked milk duct is unpleasant, it is not an emergency case. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should visit a doctor:
- Severe pain
- A blockage that persists for more than two days
- Red, swollen breasts due to fever
- Blocked ducts that continually re-clogging
What Happens If You Can’t Unclog The Milk Duct?
A clogged milk duct will clear up in 24 hours if you’ve attempted at least some of the methods listed. If the blockage persists for more than a few days or you have a fever, you may be suffering from mastitis, a breast disease. Mastitis frequently needs medical treatment and prescription medications to resolve. If you suspect this infection, contact your doctor.
What Causes Milk Ducts to Clog?
There are different reasons behind a clogged milk duct. Once you have figured out the causes, you can find the solution quickly.
1. Wrong Breastfeeding Latch
If your infant doesn’t latch onto your breasts well, he just can’t draw milk out. When the milk accumulates as a result of an incorrect latch, it clogs the ducts.
2. Engorgement of the Breasts
If you don’t nurse regularly enough, forget feedings, leave it too late between feedings, or substitute with formula, breast milk might build up and jam the ducts.
Blebs can restrict the entrance of your milk-producing glands. They cause your milk to back up and become trapped in the thin tunnels that enable it to pass from your breasts to your nipples.
4. Inconsistent Feeding
It’s sometimes simply a case of skipping or letting your infant sleep through his regular feeding time.
Clogs can also occur due to sudden changes in nursing schedules, such as returning to work and weaning too soon.
5. Overabundant Milk Production
Breast engorgement and clogged milking can occur if your body releases too much milk.
6. Fatigue and Dehydration
You’re more likely prone to this issue if you don’t get enough sleep and don’t drink enough water.
7. Excessive Pressure
A bra with an underwire or that is uncomfortably tight might impose pressure on the breast tissues, restricting milk production.
Another cause for the pressure may be the straps of a baby carriage or a bulky diaper bag.
Breast engorgement blocked milking, and even mastitis can develop if you wean your infant too soon.
Vigorous or intense activity can clog the milk glands, particularly in the upper body.
How to Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts?
Some women tend to be more prone to blocked milk ducts than others, and there is no way to prevent them entirely. However, you can reduce this risk as much as possible with the following tips:
1. Stick to a Schedule
Emptying your breasts thoroughly and frequently is the most excellent approach to avoid this problem. Breast milk supply is a supply-and-demand process, and clogged ducts frequently occur when supply is too much for the demand to handle.
If your ducts are vulnerable to clogging, you should avoid delaying pumping cycles unless you have no other option. Furthermore, you should make an effort to clear your breasts as much as possible to eliminate the excess liquid.
This video shows you how to develop the feeding schedule. Please check and plan your own.
2. Consider Lecithin
The fatty ingredient comes from egg yolks or soybeans. It can thin milk and give it a less sticky texture, leading to a lower chance of getting blocked.
Although there isn’t much evidence to support this method, many nursing mothers who suffer from clogs claim it can help. Moreover, lecithin is safe to consume while breastfeeding.
Of course, you should always check with your doctor before taking any supplement regimen.
3. Choose the Right Nipple Shields
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your nipple shields are the correct size. Flanges that are too wide or too little might result in ineffective pumping, resulting in excess milk accumulating in the breasts.
4. Avoid Pressure
Your bra should fit well so that there is no pressure on your breasts. The diaper bag must not rub against your breasts too.
Your sleeping position plays a vital role in reducing pressure. Try to fix your habit if you are a stomach-sleeper. At least, make sure that you don’t sleep on the affected breast.
5. Change Your Nursing Position
Let milk drain from all parts of the breasts to the infant. Babies will be able to empty different parts of their breasts and reduce future blocked ducts by adjusting nursing positions. A proper posture also contributes to reducing back pain during breastfeeding.
6. Stay Hydrated
Your problem worsens as a result of dehydration. It would be best to maintain a consistent water consumption throughout the day. You can drink coconut water because it’s sweet and low in calories.
7. Manage Stress
If your immune system becomes weak, you may be more susceptible to blockage. It’s always a good idea to get adequate sleep, reduce anxiety, and take care of yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mothers have significant concerns about blocked milking. Here are some of their frequently asked questions.
1. What Does it Feel like when your clogged breast duct clears?
After clearing the duct, one thing to be sure of is that you will not feel uncomfortable anymore. The soreness will also release or disappear.
When touching, you do not feel any pain and the region around the lump is not red and warm anymore.
If treated well, your nipples can work as normal, which means that your milk production can go smoothly. Milk is not thick or stringy.
2. Will a Clogged Duct Resolve On Its Own?
Sadly, if your milk duct gets blocked, it will not disappear on its own. It’s also critical to get rid of it before it becomes an infection.
If left untreated, the blockage can develop mastitis, a kind of breast infection. Clogged ducts usually clear in 24 to 48 hours, or even after a good feeding. If this isn’t the case, you’ll need to take action.
3. What is the Difference Between Mastitis and a Clogged Milk Duct?
Blocked ducts can lead to mastitis, a severe illness if left untreated. Mastitis demands medical attention, so it’s crucial to figure out what you’re fighting.
Fortunately, distinguishing between the two is You have blocked ducts if:
- You are not in pain, or you only feel the pain around the lump.
- Your breasts don’t turn red, although the areas around the lump do.
- Except for the lump, other parts of your body seem fine.
On the other hand, you are suffering from mastitis if:
- Your breast is sensitive, swollen, aching, or red.
- Mastitis can also induce flu-like symptoms, such as a temperature above 101°F, achiness, and exhaustion.
- If you think that you have mastitis, contact your doctor immediately since the infection needs medical treatment.
Breastfeeding might result in clogged milk ducts. This problem is easy to solve at home, and breastfeeding is the best method. Keep an eye on your situation while you attempt to drain the blockage to ensure it doesn’t worsen over time.
Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. For any further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for stopping by!