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.
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!
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.