If you are breastfeeding or pumping breast milk, there is a very good chance that you will experience a clogged milk duct at some point.
And let me tell you, they are not fun to deal with! So here is everything you need to know about clogged milk ducts to get rid of the pain fast, and prevent it from happening again. 😀
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What Is A Clogged Milk Duct?
A clogged milk duct can also be called a blocked milk duct or a plugged milk duct. To put this short and simple, this means that there is a blockage in one of the ducts that carry breast milk to your nipple for the baby.
Clogged Milk Duct Symptoms
If you have a clogged milk duct, your breast will be very tender and sore.
You will be able to tell where the blockage is, because you will feel a lump in your breast, which can be very hard to the touch, and can even turn red on the surface of your skin.
If anything is pushed up against this lump, it can be very painful.
You might also notice that your breasts will leak breast milk, even right after breastfeeding and pumping.
What Causes A Clogged Milk Duct?
A clogged milk duct can happen when milk is not being expressed correctly from the breast. 😮
Many things can cause this:
- Your baby is weaning, and is not drinking as much breast milk as they were before.
- You are not pumping as much as you were before, or you are not pumping on a set schedule.
- Your baby is not latched correctly when they are breastfeeding.
- You have an oversupply of breast milk
This Baby’s Eat, Sleep, and Poop Schedule will help you make sure you are breastfeeding and pumping on schedule!
How To Clear A Clogged Milk Duct
If you massage the area on your breast with the lump, this will help unclog the duct. You can massage it before you breastfeed or pump, or while you are breastfeeding and pumping.
The LaVie Lactation Massager can help clear a clogged milk duct right away, or even prevent you from getting them! Make sure to check it out.
Putting a hot compress on your breast before you breastfeed or pump can help relieve the pressure and allow the breast milk to pass through.
Wear Loose Clothing
Wearing tight clothing and bras is never good for breast milk supply when breastfeeding or pumping. If you have a clogged milk duct, wearing loose clothing could help your milk pass through the duct easier.
Make Sure Your Baby Is Latched Correctly
To unclog your milk duct, make sure your baby is latched correctly to get as much milk as they can each and every time they are breastfeeding.
Breastfeed And Pump As Often As Possible
If you are dealing with a clogged milk duct, the main thing you need to do is get that milk out. Make sure to breastfeed your baby as much as you possibly can. If this is not enough to unclog your milk duct, then add some pumping sessions in between breastfeeding sessions.
If you are exclusively pumping breast milk, add some extra pumping sessions and pump for longer amount of time each time you pump.
This can be challenging for moms that are returning to work and breastfeeding. Milkology also offers The Ultimate Back To Work Pumping Course.
How Will You Know When Your Milk Duct Is Unclogged
When you do get that milk to pass, you will immediately feel relief. Any lump or pain you were having in your breast will go away.
When you do pass the milk, you will get a very heavy stream of milk. When this happens, make sure to keep breastfeeding or pumping until your breasts are completely empty. Because you now have so much milk in your breasts, if you do not expel all of it, you could get another clogged milk duct right away.
How Long Does A Clogged Milk Duct Last?
There is no single answer for this (sorry). This depends on how quickly you react to having a clogged milk duct, and how quickly you are able to unclog it.
The best advice I have is- use a combination of all of the treatment method each and every time you are breastfeeding or pumping, and your pain should be gone pretty quickly.
How To Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts
- Wear loose clothing to increase your breast milk supply and allow for an easier letdown of breast milk.
- Make sure your breasts are empty each time you breastfeed or pump. This can be fixed by adding pumping sessions after breastfeeding, or increasing the time during your pumping sessions.
- Regardless, if you are breastfeeding or pumping, stick to a schedule so your body can adjust to how much milk it needs to produce and when.
- When weaning a baby from breastfeeding or weaning from exclusively pumping, make sure to do is slowly, so your body can have time to adjust.
Will A Clogged Milk Duct Go Away On Its Own
Unfortunately a clogged milk duct will not go away on its own. You want to treat it as soon as possible, because if it is left untreated, it can turn into Mastitis.
Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the mammary gland, and does need antibiotics to treat….Yuck! 🤒You do not want that, so go treat that clogged milk duct right now!