Tips For a Clogged Duct While Breastfeeding
For anyone that has a had a clogged duct while breastfeeding, you know how uncomfortable it can be! Never fear, your postpartum doulas are here.
A clogged duct occurs when the ducts in your breast tissue are blocked by dried milk, or if you have oversupply and your breasts are engorged. For either reason, the breast can be very tender, sore, and sometimes you can see or feel a lump where the clog is located.
Below are a few of our favorite tips for help relieve the pressure. Use these tips individually, or even combine them for a greater benefit. Please remember, as doulas we can help support you through your breastfeeding journey but not offer medical advice, but if you feel like you need more specialized or medical support, please refer to your IBCLC or midwife.
First, Don’t Stop Nursing!
Sometimes when something hurts, we naturally do not want to continue doing that. However, your baby’s sucking in the best way to get those ducts unclogged. Nursing often is beneficial because the clog can work itself out easier. If you can do a bit of self massage while baby is nursing, that can be helpful. Just make sure you start at the top of your breast and work towards the nipple, on and around the clog.
Specially, Dangle Nursing
Dangle nursing is a great way to use gravity as well as the sucking power of your baby to help with clogs. Just as the name suggest, you dangle your breast over your baby, and let him or her nurse. Note: a good latch is still important, and this position can change how much and how fast your milk enters your baby’s mouth, so just make sure you both are ready for the different position.
Pump in Between Nursing Session
Pumping mimics the action of nursing, so even when baby is sleeping, you can still get some of the benefits of a nursing session. As an added bonus, you can use the expressed milk for a bottle for your postpartum doula to come overnight and feed your baby while you get a little bit of extra sleep!
Hot Shower or Hot Bath
Hot water for a clogged duct can be just as magically as it was during your labor! The heat will help ease those stubborn clogged ducts open while being very relaxing. You can either standing in a hot shower while massaging your breast, or get into the bathtub to soak your breast. While in the bath, you can either dangle your breast, or submerge your entire body. As an added benefit, you can add some epson salts to the bath!
Combing or Brush the Clog Out
Yes, you read that right. Some women swear by using a comb, brush, or even an electric tooth brush to get the clog out! Just as you would massage the clog, brush or comb towards the nipple.
Fill Your Bra With Food!
Yup, another kind of odd thing, but it works! Nursing women love either cabbage or even a sliced up potato in your bra. Cabbage is great for weaning also, so be careful that you do not add too many veggies to your bra that may negatively impact your supply after the clog is relieved.
When a Clogged Duct Can Be An Issue
Most of the time, a clogged duct is just uncomfortable but does not cause any real problems for you. However, if you start to notice your breast is red and/or hot to the touch, it might be a sign of an infection or mastitis. Also, if you begin to feel any flu-like symptoms in addition to the clogged duct, it might be worth a call to your doctor or midwife.