Plugged Milk Duct Remedies
One thing they don’t really warn you about in all your knowledge and research for breastfeeding is plugged ducts and how much they can hurt. I remember in my breastfeeding class they touched on the subject and had us feel the little marble in the fake breast, but I wasn’t prepared for how bad they would hurt. Or how big the plugged duct could get.
I’m an overproducing exclusive pumper. Some may say oh you are so lucky, you have so much milk, but there are struggles you go through as an over producer.
The plugged ducts. Holy mama, they hurt. Literally, for about 3 months I was getting really bad plugged ducts every single week. I couldn’t figure out the right remedy to keep myself from getting so plugged up all the time.
If you have never had a plugged duct consider yourself lucky. They hurt. They burn. They give you a rash. It’s just miserable. I’ve never gotten mastitis from it, so I’m lucky so far with that.
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How to tell if you have a plugged duct
*Please note that I have never had mastitis, so I don’t know the exact difference between the 2. If you think you have mastitis you should contact your doctor right away.
I’ve had so many plugged ducts, that I can tell right away now when I have one. I get a big hard spot on my one breast that is probably the width of a baseball. For some reason, mine is in the same spot every time, in the same breast.
Red warm area
Sometimes, the area where the plugged duct is has a red spot on, it and sometimes a rash. The rash goes away once I get the plug out, but sometimes it can be a couple days after the plug is gone.
Sore to the touch
If I have a really stubborn plug, that will not come out no matter how long I pump, it will get very sore and tender. Even holding my daughter, and having that pressure against it hurts.
Causes for plugged ducts
I haven’t done extensive research on this, but I have noticed a couple things that will sometimes bring on my plugged ducts.
Wearing underwire bras
When I first got pregnant I was bound and determined I wasn’t going to wear those ugly old school nursing bras. Well, here I am, wearing one every day. I love underwire because I just feel more supported, but while you are breastfeeding you might as well forget it.
Babywearing for a long time
I love babywearing. I have 2 Tula’s that I use all the time. I have found though that if I babywear for too long in a day I will get a plugged duct. I am not sure what the connection is, but the next day I notice it.
Treating plugged ducts
I’ve gotten so many plugged ducts, that now I have a routine that I go through if I have a plugged duct. Keep in mind that these are the things that work for me, and they may not work for everyone. Here are the steps I take when I get a plugged milk duct.
Step 1: Hot Shower
The first thing I do is take a hot shower. Massaging while in the shower and the hot water will help to loosen the duct.
Step 2: Heating pad
Before I start pumping I will use a heating pad that can be warmed up in the microwave like this one. I will warm up the heating pad and let it sit on the area for about 10-15 minutes before I start pumping.
Normally I pump for 25 minutes at a time, but when I have a plugged duct I will pump for as long as it takes for the plug to come out. I use a double electric pump, so if the plugged duct doesn’t come out during that time, I will continue to pump until it is out. If you use a double pump, I suggest unplugging one side and then using it as a single pump.
While I pump I use the LaVie lactation massager. This little thing will literally massage the milk right out. Depending on the severity of the blockage I will either massage while pumping or use this little lactation massager. It is a lifesaver. You can also use this even if you don’t have a blocked duct to get more breastmilk out at one time. I don’t normally do this but I’ve heard of other mamas having good luck with this.
Yes, you read that right. Thinly sliced raw potatoes. During my most severe cases of a plugged duct, I’ve had to resort to using raw potato slices. You may think this sounds crazy, but it actually works. I just cut up a few slices at a time and put them in my bra for about an hour before I pump. Raw potatoes have a way of drawing out the bad stuff in your body, so this method could work on those stubborn blocked milk ducts.
Breastfeeding Plugged Duct Prevention
There are a couple things that I have done that have definitely made a difference in how many plugged ducts I get. The first is to not wear any underwire bras. It is not my favorite thing in the world, but as soon as I put on a normal bra I would get a plugged duct. So I haven’t worn one in quite a few months.
The next thing I do is take sunflower lecithin every day. This is a supplement you can take. I had to play around with the number that helps me, but I finally got it right and now I barely get a plugged duct. If you are unsure of supplements or don’t know if you should take it do not hesitate to ask your doctor.
*Any advice in this article is just my experience, not professional advice.
I’m Lindsay, a wife, new mommy, and creative. I help moms with tips on exclusive pumping and new mom life. I create crochet patterns for beginners. I also help mom bloggers with photography.