We often don’t see the behind the scenes struggle with breastfeeding or pumping, and one of my biggest challenges was plugged milk ducts. Over my 3.5 years of breastfeeding, I had more than 20 plugged ducts and mastitis 5 times, one of those episodes landing me in the emergency room. Below are some tips that worked for me that I hope will help other moms struggling with plugged milk ducts.
Preventing Plugged Milk Ducts
Take a sunflower lecithin supplement. Hands down the biggest game-changer for me was taking this supplement daily. It decreases the viscosity of your milk and makes it less likely to get plugged up. Also, drink water after every nurse or pump. This is such an easy thing to do and can help so much. Drink up, ladies!
Keep a Regular Breastfeeding or Pumping Schedule
Returning to work, traveling, or skipping feeds can definitely make you more vulnerable. So, stick to a schedule as best as you can. Every feeding should equal a pump so whenever your baby at home is feeding is when you should be pumping away. You should also breastfeed more and often, if you can. Breastfeeding instead of pumping when you are with your baby helps to drain your boobs better.
Change Breastfeeding Positions
Change your baby’s position on the boob to help them latch better. Consider a football hold, cradle hold or side-lying in bed.
Easier said than done obviously but a biggie. Our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist Emily McElrath touches on mental health postpartum in her blog post, “What to expect from your body 2-4 weeks postpartum” here.
The Magic of Heat and Massage for Soothing Plugged Ducts
Place heat on a plugged duct with a Medela soothing pad or a diaper soaked with warm water. Another alternative is to take a shower and run warm water over your boob. Also massage that breast with your hands, electric toothbrush, vibrator, or whatever you can!
Dangle Feed Your Baby
I have literally gotten on my hands and knees and dropped my boob into my baby’s mouth hoping gravity would help him suck it out and it kind of worked. You can also use your partner on the boob. Okay, I’ve never done this personally but I have been so desperate I would never judge a woman for putting her partner on that boob to suck it out.
Managing Milk Blisters
Milk blisters present like little white pimples on your nips and block the outlet. I use a sterile needle to pop or scrub with a loofah in a warm shower.
Cabbage Leaves… Trust Us
Cabbage leaves can prevent you from getting engorged. Try them out!
Hang In There Mama
This is the best piece of advice I can give you. I have been so incredibly desperate at times and wondered what would happen if it didn’t release, but it always did. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find your village. Stay strong.
Are you currently pregnant or planning to conceive? If so, make sure to download my FREE resource — 5 Myths We’ve Been Told About Pregnant Bodies! I correct common pregnancy myths and give you tons of tips to help you feel strong and healthy for 40 weeks and beyond.
Sara Reardon PT, DPT, WCS is the owner of NOLA Pelvic Health and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, a resource for online pelvic health education and therapy to help women worldwide with pelvic health conditions. She is a board certified women’s health physical therapist with a special interest in treating pelvic pain and pregnancy and postpartum conditions. She is a mom, wife, Saints fan and wanna be yogi.