Clogged ducts are no fun. AT ALL.
And when you first have one (or many) your impulse will probably be to look for some painkiller and try to endure it. Which is okay! But if that’s all you do, it can turn into mastitis. And trust me, that is far worse than a clogged duct.
So! Solve the clogged duct as quickly as you can to end the pain and avoid further complications!
But how do you do that? Here’s the solution given to me by one stellar lactation consultant!
***As always, ladies, save this BEFORE you encounter clogged ducts (I’m talking to you, pregnant mommas)! It’s easier to prevent than repair!***
Step 1: Wet baby diapers with hot water
That’s right. Grab two to four baby diapers (depending on the size of the diapers and the size of your breasts) and wet them down with hot water. As hot as you can stand!
Then sit and hold the heat on your breasts until they’re cool, 15 minutes tops. You’ll want to have them on as long as possible, so wrapping your chest in a towel after putting the diapers on will help hold heat in for longer.
Step 2: Pump for about 7 minutes/give baby half a feeding
This can be a little tricky if you’re not pumping, but you want your breasts half empty. Try to estimate how long baby spends on one side and switch them to the other side halfway through.
THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT!! You will understand when you try it!
Step 3: Massage
Now, firmly massage your half-empty breast with the muscle between your thumb and your wrist. And when I say firmly, I mean excruciatingly. You have to be really tough with this one, and have a lot of willpower. Massage down and away from your breast, toward the nipple. If you don’t use enough force, all this is going to do is hurt. My lactation consultant told me that some ladies are so clogged their breasts feel like rocks, but they’re so scared to really push those ducts hard that they end up with infections. YOU DO NOT WANT TO END UP WITH AN INFECTION. So you’ve got to be really aggressive with the amount of pressure you apply.
It is going to hurt. Probably nigh unto unbearably so. But you can do it! 🙂
Step 4: Finish Pumping/Feeding
After you’ve done massaging on the one side, finish pumping/breastfeeding that side for the remainder of your usual time. Switch to the other side and repeat the process.
At this point you will probably understand why you only pumped/fed halfway. If you broke the clog loose, at this point you might be able to feel it scraping down toward your nipple (most of the time you won’t feel it, but it’s weird when you do). Massaging at the halfway point was important, because now baby/pump can remove all of the clogs you just loosened.
(Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your baby to drink the hardened milk that clogged your duct. It’s a tiny little milk ball that will just pass through their digestive system and into the diaper.)
Step 5: Cabbage Leaves
Now put some cabbage leaves inside your bra. To be honest, I’ve never seen research that says this really works, but somehow it helps. Plus, with a clogged duct, you’ll want to try just about anything. So load that bra up!
If you aren’t already feeling relieved, it’s okay. Especially with initial engorgement, it can take a couple days to really start feeling better. Just remember to repeat the process at every feeding and it will shorten the time significantly!
Please remember too, it’s much easier to PREVENT than to REPAIR! Here’s some ways to help prevent clogged ducts:
- Wear a correctly fitting nursing bra (even if you’re exclusively pumping). More on that here.
- Pump/breastfeed diligently. No skipping! Especially at night!
- Don’t sleep flat on your breasts. Try to lay on your back or sideways.
- Try not to use things that stimulate milk production when you are engorged. Like caffeine.
These tips have worked great for me, I’ve only had clogged ducts twice and both times were for no longer than three days! Just remember, be diligent about it and you will be more comfortable in the future!
Tried some of these things? Tell us what worked for you in the comments below!
Wish Momma Told Me