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Figure8Moms Breastfeeding SOS: Help for Plugged Ducts

Never has something so small caused so much pain! Recurring plugged ducts almost drove me to give up nursing my first child at 4 weeks. It began with a tiny white blister on my nipple that didn’t initially hurt until it was followed by a gradually growing lump in my boob that would not fully drain. The lump would soften slightly and the pain would subside after feedings, but it seemed to return with a vengeance when it got close to time for the next feed.

Clogged ducts occur when milk flow is obstructed. They can occur when your nipple pore is blocked (and you see the tell-tale white blister) or further back in the breast. You’ll recognize it by the hard tender swelling in one area of your breast as well as the fact that it usually only occurs on one side at a time.

Here what you can do to resolve plugged ducts and get your milk flowing again:

1. Apply gentle heat

Take a warm shower or apply a warm, wet compress to your breasts before feeding. Continue to keep your breasts warm. Gentle, continuous warmth is the best way to keep your milk flowing.

Lavie Warming Massage Pads combine heat and vibration to improve milk flow while nursing or pumping.

Earth Mama Booby Tubes are flexible flax seed filled pads that when warmed deliver moist heat to help reduce swelling and encourage milk flow.

LANACare Wool Nursing Pads are not just for cold weather. They are an all-season traditional Scandinavian solution for keeping breasts comfortably warm to stimulate healthy circulation and prevent plugged ducts.

The Boob Design Organic Merino Wool Nursing Bra employs the same principle and provides all-season breathable warmth.

2. Massage, Breast Compression & Hand Expression

Gently massage your affected breast starting just above the blockage massaging to move the milk outward. This outward pressure massage is known as a breast compression. You can do this while your baby is feeding or as part of hand expression. Sometimes strings of thickened milk can be dislodged and discharged through breast compression and hand expression. This brings immediate and immense relief!

The LaVie Lactation Massager is a shower-safe massage tool uniquely shaped for breast massage. Its vibration feature helps restore milk flow faster.

A manual silicone breast pump like the Haakaa can be used to clear a plugged duct. Fill the pump with very warm water mixed with 1TBS of Epson Salt. Attach the pump to the affected breast for about 10 mins to loosen the plug.

3. Completely empty your breasts

If you can, start the nursing session with baby on the affected breast first. Babies are generally more effective than pumps at completely emptying the breast. However, if you can’t get your baby to completely empty your breast, try pumping the remainder of the milk until your breast feels totally soft.

4. Vary your nursing position

Varying your nursing position during the course of the feed will allow baby to empty all areas of your breast. Positions that you don’t normally use will help clear ducts that get less attention. It might also prolong the feed by preventing baby from falling asleep in one position.

5. Supplements that help

Lecithin is a supplement used by countless moms to treat and prevent plugged ducts. While there are no studies that have accessed the use of lecithin for plugged ducts, many moms (myself included) swear by this simple addition to the diet.

La Vie Duct Flow Lactation Support is a herbal tincture that was formulated specially for breastfeeding moms to help maintain lymphatic function and keep things flowing.