by maipham

March 15, 2021

what helps with clogged milk ducts

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What is one of the biggest fears for women when they have a baby? Yes, you guessed it right.

That is the blockage of the milk.

The breast contains a series of ducts. They carry milk from the mammary gland to the nipple when a woman is breastfeeding. A clogged duct can cause severe pain, swelling, and itching.

According to Medical News Today, a 2011 study of 117 lactating women found that 4.5% had blocked ducts during the first year of breastfeeding. Ducts that remain clogged can cause mastitis, a painful infection in the breast.

So in this article, join me in learning the basics to know what helps with clogged milk ducts.

What Are Clogged Milk Ducts?

Clogged milk ducts are a condition that many mothers have after giving birth to a baby. Especially for mothers who give birth for the first time. They have no experience in breastfeeding and caring for their babies. The ducts become blocked, preventing the milk from escaping.

The longer your breast has clogged milk ducts, the more painful and severe the problem is. As your breast will keep producing milk, it increases the pressure inside the breast and your breast becomes hot, hard and swelling. In worse cases, you might experience fever and mastitis, when you must see a doctor ASAP.

What Causes Clogged Milk Ducts?

Duct obstruction is most common in the mothers when:

  • They are breastfeeding
  • They have recently had a baby.
  • They have not breasted or have recently stopped breastfeeding.

Duct obstruction is more likely if a lactating woman does not pump fully. It can help milk build-up and block the ducts. Some difficulties with breastfeeding make women block the ducts, such as:

  • Supply over demand
  • Babies with weak latches
  • Pain that interferes with regular feeding
what helps with clogged milk ducts

But, anyone who is breastfeeding can get a blockage in the ducts at some points. Some risk factors include:

Rare or skipped feedings

Sometimes, if you are lucky, your little one skips his normal 20 minutes cat-nap and takes a long and beautiful nap for a straight 2 hours. And you are supposed to nurse him. So what do you do?

Wake him up so he can latch, or just say "screw it" and lay down and take a short nap with him?

Yes, it is so damn tempting to skip breastfeeding for a little more rest. God knows you need one. 

Even though skipping a session once in a while may not harm your supply, skipping feeding will put you in a serious risk of having clogged milk ducts.

Inappropriate latch/suction

If your nipples hurt when latching, it could mean your baby has slipped out of the proper position.

This causes an enlarged mammary gland, drain obstruction, inflammation.

If this is the case, gently pull the corner of his mouth so he releases your poor nipple, and try again. 

Oversupply of milk

Sometimes much of a grand thing can have not-so-wonderful effects on your boobs and infant. From infant hacking and spluttering due to fast drain stream, areola gnawing (ouch!)

So an overabundant drain supply can put a damper on your bolstering sessions. It moreover does is increment your hazard of creating blocked channels and mastitis.

Overuse of nipple shields

On certain occasions, such as an altered areola, areola shield use can be helpful. They are more often than not a final resort choice and are not suggested for delayed use.

Areola shields put an obstruction between your breast and infant. This affects your baby's purging your breasts and increments, creating blocked drainage channels.

Pressure on the ducts

This results from:

  • Resting on your stomach or something pressing on your breasts
  • A bra or clothing that is too tight
  • Embellishments such as a cross-body sack.

These things may put weight on your drain channels, prevent your drain stream and expanding your hazard of creating clogged milk ducts.

Stress and tiredness

Physical changes because after giving birth can cause you to get less quality rest. Stress and lack of rest can widen the risk of creating clogged milk ducts.

Sudden weaning

Weaning suddenly can cause breast engorgement. In the long run, it can increase the hazard of creating blocked drain conduits. Since your body doesn't have a chance to diminish its drain generation slowly.

What Helps With Clogged Milk Ducts?

If you get a clog, it, shockingly, won't go absent from its claim. And it's critical to clear it sometime recently it turns into contamination. Gratefully, there is a bounty of strategies to assist get that drain streaming once more. Attempt one, attempt them all! Here are our go-to strategies for getting free of clogs.

Pump regularly

The first advice you will hear when asking what helps with clogged milk ducts is to nurse or pump more, as many as possible if you can actually.

When nursing, offer your little one the clogged breast first. Whereas pumping, you'll increment the suction a bit (but not so high it hurts your areolas). Anything you are doing, don't delay or skip feedings or pumping sessions.

When I was breastfeeding Ethan, I got clogged milk ducts very often, at least 2 times a week for a straight 2 months. Then I learned some lessons from it. I gave my son the clogged breast and I hand-pumped the other. That way, my son was forced to suck harder to get the milk and my other breast was safe from clog risk!


Knead the clogged range together with your hand. You will make a vibrating thing just like the handle of an electric toothbrush. Close the chest; stroke toward the nipple—or rub before the clog to clear the hindrance. You'll, too, attempt wiggling the breast to release the clog (truly!). Begin with tender weight and construct up to a more firm weight.

Test with diverse nursing positions

You'll be able to point your baby's chin within the course of the clog. This may rub the zone and apply more grounded suction. Or attempt "dangle nursing" by getting down on your hands and knees along with your child. This allows gravity to help to release the clog.

Take lecithin

Lecithin may decrease the "stickiness" of the drain to create it less demanding to stream. Normal measurements can offer help in anticipating blockages. One suggested dose is 1,200 milligrams, four times a day, to help prevent recurrent plugged ducts, according to the Canadian Breast-Feeding Foundation.

A few moms discover their babies are bigoted to soy lecithin. So many individuals use sunflower lecithin. Any supplements ought to be inspected by your specialist. 

Try to use a cabbage leaf

Every person is different, Something can work wonder for one and doesn't work for others.

This cabbage leaf is one of those things. Did not work on me, but worked great on my friends.

It doesn't hurt trying though. Press the leaf so that it discharges a little juice, and put it into your bra. Apply a fresh cabbage leaf every two or three hours, and you'll feel much better off at the end of the day. 

Cut down on hot liquids

Hot liquid doesn't make it on the list of what helps with clogged milk ducts. No one will tell you this, but it's critical. Once you have a clogged milk duct, you'd need to urge fewer letdowns than normal. This means you should cut on liquids and a few calories. But don't starve yourself.

Use castor oil

Some moms experienced a good result with castor oil. You will need a towel and some castor oil.

  • Make a quarter-fold towel and moisten it with a little warm water.
  • Put a little castor oil on one side. Be generous, but don't let it become sloppy.
  • Microwave the towel.
  • Start microwave time at 5 seconds and keep working for 5 seconds until it's nice and warm but not hot. It won't take long for it to get too hot. Be careful!
  • Place a warm washcloth over the sore breast.
  • Use plastic wrap to cover and wait for 20 minutes.
  • Wash off castor oil, especially if it gets on your nipples. You definitely don't want your kids to eat any castor oil.
  • Breastfeed and massage the lump towards your nipple.

How To Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts?

The most important strategy is to let your baby drain fluid from each breast. Babies can take 15–30 minutes to latch fully, so patience is key. Some solutions to prevent clogged milk ducts include:

Breastfeed properly

Be sure that your baby has a good latch so they can fully suck your breasts with each feed. Also, attempt not to hinder feedings or cut them short. An infant can take for a moment to purge the breasts, so persistence is key! Use a pump or hand pump in case your child doesn't purge your breasts. 

Do not skip a breastfeeding session

Skipping breastfeeding. Not frequently feeding. Adding formula. Or waiting too long between pump/feedings.

These things will cause milk to build up in the breast and clog the ducts. Women with too much milk supply have a higher risk of engorgement and duct clogging. 

Change Your Breastfeeding Positions

Try to get the baby to finish all the breast milk by changing your breastfeeding position. Your baby will discharge different areas of your breasts and cut blocked ducts in the future. When you and your baby are set up, try one of these five best breastfeeding poses:

  • Cradle hold
  • Crossover hold
  • Football hold
  • Laid-back position
  • Side-lying position.

Be sure that your baby's body is facing your chest, with your baby's ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. 

Manage Stress

You can spend all day trying (and failing) to get a job done. When you start something, your baby wakes up, the diapers need changing, or your little one needs a little attention.

You may sometimes feel as though life is completely out of control. If you like to control and worry about getting things done, this can be stressful and frustrating. Anxiety and unhappiness can also cause stress. Maybe you're worried about where you live, money or relationships.

Or you're worried about a lot of little things that make a big difference to your life. You can get ducts blocked if your immune system is compromised. Adequate rest, stress management, and self-care are always recommended!

Do not wean your baby suddenly.

If you are weaning - try to reduce your milk supply gradually. It will help if you cut out one breastfeeding/pump every few days. Cutting out your daily feed allows your milk production to decrease slowly. And your baby will have little or no bloating and discomfort feelings. The rate of stopping breastfeeding without causing discomfort is different for each mother.

Signs You Must See A Doctor

A clogged duct can be painful, but it's not a medical emergency. Yet, meet your doctor if the following symptoms occur:

  • Soreness
  • A clogged duct does not go away after 1-2 days.
  • Fever
  • Red, swollen breasts
  • Clogged pipes keep coming back.

What helps with clogged milk ducts - final thought

Breastfeeding isn't always easy, but it's not surprising. As a mother, you will choose to make sacrifices every day to better your children and family. Although you can't predict every challenge to face, being prepared is still necessary. This is the first step to overcome any difficult situation.

I hope this article can help you understand what helps with clogged milk ducts so that you are armed with some tools and techniques to face those painful times.

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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