Clogged Milk Ducts have to be one of the most left out breastfeeding problems discussed amongst new or expecting mothers with no breastfeeding experience. The main problems discussed are typically latching issues, an insufficient milk supply, or the prevention of Mastitis.
Not everyone suffers from clogged milk ducts, and that is great. However, some are less fortunate (me), and could not avoid the inevitable.
Dealing with sleep deprivation, a newborn that could not latch for the life of herself, while also extremely colicky, I didn’t expect my breastfeeding journey to be a walk in the park.
Latching difficulties, one of the most common breastfeeding issues, that if not fixed quickly will lead to an Insufficient Milk Supply, which causes Clogged Ducts, and if those aren’t relieved can cause more severe issues like Engorgement or Mastitis, etc.
What is a Clogged Milk Duct?
A Clogged Milk Duct, aka Blocked Milk Duct, is when you have a localized obstruction within a milk duct or multiple milk ducts preventing breastmilk from passing freely through the nipple.
How do I know if I have a Clogged Milk Duct? What symptoms to look for:
When you are new to breastfeeding it can be hard to tell what issues are corresponding with your symptoms. Breastfeeding, nearly exclusively, Clogged Milk Ducts have become the new norm.
Let’s be honest. My daughter just slept through the night (yay!!) for the first time last night, and I woke up this morning with clogged milk ducts within both of my breasts.
Below is a list of symptoms to look out for if you believe you may be dealing with a clogged/blocked milk duct.
- Pain or discomfort felt on the breast
- Lumps on the breast that may appear swollen and feel tender
- Delayed milk flow on one side. Your baby may also be yanking and tugging at you with frustration from not being able to access breastmilk.
- Swollen breasts accompanied by heat felt from within, and/or on breasts
- Milk Bleb, aka Milk Blister, may be present. These typically look like a white, clear, or yellow dot, and an ordinary blister. These are filled with backed up milk.
What causes a clogged milk duct?
The causes are other common breastfeeding issues. It seems like when you breastfeed any problem experienced during is a result of something that you can work on to prevent.
However, weaning baby off nursing, growth spurts, or any other issues pop up, and before you know it you are clogged up.
Here is a simple list of causes. Let’s prevent them together!
- Engorgement, or not emptying the breasts enough. If baby is fed and full, and you notice your breasts still feel heavy then you should aim to pump right away. Doing so will prevent engorgement and lopsided breasts.
- Weaning, Infrequent Feeding, or Skipping feedings. Let the milk loose! Your body is getting the message you are not letting the milk out when it needs to be and can easily build up causing a blockage. Or worst, hurt your milk supply! Need a boost? Try my delicious milk boosting Lactation Brownie Recipe!
- Pressure on a Milk Duct. Check how your nursing bra, bra, and shirt or whatever you have on fits. Make sure your breasts can breathe and are not being squished. Clothes that fit to tightly put pressure on the breast tissue.
- A poor latch from baby. If baby can’t latch correctly, milk will not be drained from breasts causing a frustrated baby and clogged milk ducts. Consult a lactation counselor for help on latching techniques.
- Use of a Nipple Shield. I live by using a nipple shield if you absolutely have to. My daughter struggled to latch, so I definitely invested in one. It helps give your nipples a break when they are sore from nursing, or have flat or inverted nipples, and help correct a baby’s latch. However, if not used right can result in insufficient draining of the breasts.
Clogged Milk Duct Remedies
Relieving a clogged milk duct is just as easy as getting them. It is very important to unclog asap to prevent Mastitis. I have compiled a list of free at-home remedies and low-cost remedies.
- Massage the breast. Massage the affected breast and try to hand express breastmilk.
- Take a Warm Shower. This will help get the milk flowing. Massage the affected breast under a warm shower, and before and after breastfeeding.
- Hot Compress. Don’t have time to shower or did already? Heat up a small towel and place it on the affected breast with slight pressure. Massage the affected breast before and after nursing.
- Try different feeding positions. Make sure baby is latched correctly. Position baby’s chin towards the blockage. Example: Blockage at bottom of breast use side-lying or laid back position. Blockage outside of breast (towards armpit) use football position. Blockage inside of breast (toward cleavage area) use cradle position.
- Avoid tight clothes or tight nursing bra/bra. Let your breasts breathe. Wearing tight clothes prevents the milk from flowing.
- Use Breast Therapy Packs. Simply heat up a breast pack in the microwave, slip on the cover, and place on the affected breast. This is my favorite and the cheapest way I clear up any blockages. I like to fold it in half and place it on the affected area while nursing my daughter and it clears up in seconds while also increasing milk flow!!! My breasts drain so well they feel like Jell-O after!
- Use a LaVie’s Lactation Massage Roller or go with the less work option and get the LaVie Lactation Massager. These both work equally well, but I have noticed the electric Massager to support and increase milk output, aide in a FASTER letdown, and empty the breast so effectively my breasts are left feeling like Jell-O!
Don’t forget these are temporary.
Now that you know the symptoms, causes, and remedies you are ready for action and prevention! So, bottom line, you NEED to empty your breasts completely and as often as possible to prevent clogged milk ducts.