Clogged milk duct occurs when a milk duct gets blocked. It causes an obstruction to the milk flow. The milk is there, but it’s hard to get. Plugged duct area may be hard and you may even feel a lump there.
Most common reasons why a clogged duct occurs are prolonged engorgement, uncomfortable or too tight clothes, other type of pressure on the breast area, or inflammation. Skipping a feeding may cause milk to accumulate in the duct and clog it.
Blocked ducts cause skin in the affected area to become warm and red. It can be accompanied by a low-grade fever.
How do you know that it is a clogged milk duct?
The area won’t get softer after the entire breast is emptied. Breastfeeding is the best remedy for most of breast conditions. It is still the best for clogged milk ducts. But the milk is harder to get out.
I had a severe case of duct clogging when my supply was just getting adjusted. One and the same spot on only one of my breasts was particularly prone to duct clogging. It felt like a small ball under the skin. It hurt when I touched it to the degree that I cried as I massaged the clogged duct area.
It was getting worse before the feeding and during the let-down. The
pain from touching the area was unbearable, but I knew something had to
1. Nursing is the panacea for a plugged duct. Let your baby nurse from the affected breast more than before. Strong and persistent sucking may unclog the duct.
2. Firmly massage the area. I know it is painful, but you have to do it. Massage during the feeding. The mechanism is as follows: after you massage some milk out of the duct, your baby should suck it out. Continue massaging as your baby continues sucking it out.
3. Take warm shower directing the shower head towards the affected area. Massage some more in the shower. Little by little the hardened area will soften.
4. If the pain is unbearable, take a doctor-recommended dosage of ibuprofen. You need to continue unplugging the duct, but the pain doesn’t have to kill you.
5. If baby sucking doesn’t get the milk out of the duct or if your baby refuses the breast,
try pumping or hand expression. You will need a good pump, preferably with a strength regulator. Gradually increase the
6. Also try cabbage leaf compress.
Cabbage Leaf Compress: apply room temperature thoroughly-washed uncooked cabbage leaf to the affected breast, leave till the next feeding. I used to leave it on for the night time. In the morning you’ll see the leaf is soft and shapeless. It gives away the juices to decrease pain and engorgement.
It did the trick for me and many others. After you remove the compress, it is easier to do a breast massage, since there is less pressure and tenderness.
Don’t give up. Unclogging the duct takes time and patience. Get some rest and then try again. Massage, shower, nurse, pump, rest, massage, shower, nurse, pump, rest…
Once the duct is unblocked and you pumped, expressed or nursed the milk out of it, watch this area for a couple of days. My one duct area was constantly getting re-clogged. But early detection and taking measures made it very manageable.
Don’t try to unclog the duct forever. If nothing works, call your doctor. Prolonged, untreated milk duct clogging may cause mastitis.
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.