Posts Tagged ‘clogged duct’

Treating Clogged Ducts

Friday, March 9th, 2012

My 12 month old still wakes up to nurse about twice during the night; sometimes more, rarely less. However during a recent trip to Colorado he slept a full 12 hours without waking once to nurse (I blame the altitude). Now you might be thinking ‘wow, how wonderful! I must have felt so well rested after a full night’s sleep?!’ I wish that were true. Instead I woke up at 4:30 in the morning painfully engorged on the left side. I tried to wake my son up so I could nurse him, but he was so sleepy I couldn’t get him to latch on. I tried to hand express some milk but was unable to. So I tossed and turned until he woke up a few hours later. However by then I already had several clogged ducts! 🙁 And boy did they hurt!

A clogged duct is when there has been an obstruction in milk flow either on the pore of the nipple or further back in the ductal system. The affected area will feel swollen, sensitive to touch, and generally uncomfortable. You can usually feel a hardened lump, or in mine case several lumps, where the duct was blocked. A clogged duct is not necessarily a serious condition in itself, however if not treated promptly it can lead to mastitis. So how do you get rid of those pesky clogged ducts and get the milk flowing smoothly again?

1. Nurse baby on affected side as much as possible. (Of course be sure to continue to nurse on both sides, or you’ll wind up with clogged ducts on the other side as well). You can also hand-express or pump milk to help keep breast as empty as possible. You might try experimenting with nursing positions to see if you can angle baby toward the effected area helping remove milk more effectively. This might include using gravity to your advantage to assist in unclogging the blocked duct by laying baby down and nursing over him/her.

2. Gets lots of rest! Your body is working hard and needs plenty of rest to heal, restore, and balance itself so you can continue to comfortably nourish your baby with your milk.

3. Drink lots of water! Staying well hydrated is always important for breastfeeding mamas, but is extra important if you are experiencing clogged ducts. Drinking plenty of water is actually a helpful preventative measure against getting clogged ducts in the first place. Having a refill-able, easy to drink from, and easy to clean water bottle is a must-have item for nursing mamas!

4. Eat lots of healthy immune boosting whole foods and consider taking immune boosting supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and omega 3 fatty acids.

5. Embrace your inner hippie and ditch your bra and other any constrictive clothing. Let your breasts move freely to help aid in the removal of obstructions.

6. Use heat and massage to help remove obstructions. You can take a hot shower and massage affected area by hand and/or apply warm compresses directly on affected area.

7. If you are very uncomfortable you might consider taking an pain reliever/anti-inflammatory (ie- ibuprofen) to help reduce discomfort. If symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, you might consider contacting your care provider. Many of the symptoms of a clogged duct are similar to that of mastitis, however mastitis is an infection that often needs to be treated with medication.

My clogged ducts lasted about 2 and half days. The most helpful treatment for me seemed to be hot showers and massage, as well as nursing baby frequently.

Have you experienced clogged ducts? What tips or suggestions do you have for effective treatment?