Breastfeeding moms know that a clogged milk duct can be extremely painful. And beyond the tenderness and discomfort during breastfeeding, a clogged milk duct can lead to mastitis, a breast infection that is fairly common while nursing.
Once a clogged milk duct is infected, it is very difficult to clear without prescription medication. That’s why it is best to take care of any blockages before they lead to infection. Natural remedies for a clogged milk duct can prevent any unnecessary pharmaceuticals and help reduce the pain quickly.
If you find yourself with a knot and burning sensation in your breast while nursing, try one or more of these known natural remedies for a clogged milk duct:
Take a Warm Shower or Bath
Soaking your breast in warm water can help loosen the blockage in your milk duct. If you opt for a shower, be sure to let the water hit the affected area for at least 10 minutes.
Massage the Knot
Chances are you’ll know exactly where your clogged milk duct is. The pain will resonate from that spot, it may be red from inflammation and you’ll feel a nodule. Massage that area for five to 10 minutes every hour.
Breastfeeding through a clogged milk duct is one of the best ways to clear the problem. Allow gravity to assist by laying your baby down on a soft surface and leaning over her on all fours. Lower your breast to your baby and let her feed with your breast dangling in her mouth.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Your clogged milk duct is painful because it is inflamed. Reduce inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish (think salmon and tuna), nuts, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, berries and tomatoes
Cover Your Breasts in Nutrients
You may have heard about some strange natural remedies for a clogged milk duct. Weird, yes, but probably true! From warm cabbage leaves and lavender tea compresses, to cold grated potatoes and coconut oil, each of these can help relieve pain and clear the blockage. Slip one of these into your nursing bra for 30 minutes and feel the relief. During this sensitive time, wear stretchy nursing bra styles that will flex with your body. The Serenity Bamboo Crossover Sleep Bra, The Natalie Cotton Wirefree Nursing Bra, and The Meryl Cotton Front Closure Leisure Bra are all excellent choices to keep your breasts comfortable and supported.
Take Sunflower Lecithin
Lecithin supplements can increase the polyunsaturated fats in your breast milk and thereby thin it out. The “stickiness” of your breast milk may have caused your clogged milk duct so to aid in a smoother flow of milk, try lecithin.
Start a Course of Probiotics
Rather than the antibiotics you’ll be prescribed for mastitis, take probiotics to boost your immune system. This will help you naturally fight inflammation and potential infection.
Remember, the best way to prevent a clogged milk duct is to breastfeed regularly until your breasts are drained completely and pump if your breasts are still full after a feeding. Don’t skip feedings or pumping sessions, which you'll definitely want to do in The Chrissy, our hands-free Nursing Pump Bra. Also, check to make sure your baby is positioned and latched for optimal breastfeeding. Try to gently massage your breasts while feeding and pumping to ensure the fattier hind milk is extracted and doesn’t get “stuck” in your milk ducts.
Sources: Mama Natural, Home Remedies Web and Harvard Health