A clogged milk duct is a painful condition experienced by nursing mothers, though many women also suffer from it when not breastfeeding or even if not pregnant. A clogged milk duct can occur anywhere on the firm section of the breast and even in the armpits. It is characterized by pain, tenderness, and swelling and in case of breastfeeding mothers; it does not allow the baby to nurse properly. Let us take a look at some home remedies when plugged milk duct won’t go away:
1. Warm compress
Use a warm compress for 10 minutes on the breast. This will get the liquid moving. You can use a heated rice sock/bag, a warm washcloth or a heating pad. Apply the compress for 10-15 minutes prior to nursing. If breastfeeding is still painful, continue applying the heat while nursing.
To get the milk moving, massage the breast downward towards the nipple. Always maintain pressure on the area with the plug. If possible, position the baby’s chin on the site of the plug. You may even massage the breast in shower or use a vibration device/massager from the front edge of the plug to the nipple.
3. Continue draining the breast
This is very important to prevent plugged milk duct from developing into mastitis. Continue the massage and warm compress application to prevent the condition from worsening. It helps to lay the baby on the bed with the breast dangling in its mouth. This allows steady pressure on the breast while the baby nurses. Use this method of feeding in case of an overabundant milk supply without adequate drainage. Nurse every 2-3 hours and do not miss any feedings. Make sure the baby is latched on to the breast properly each time.
4. Pump after nursing
This is an essential step to prevent clogged milk ducts. Use a hospital grade pump and continue to pump for 10 minutes even after the baby has drained the breast completely.
5. Wear a supportive undergarment
One of the main causes of plugged or clogged milk duct is wearing improper undergarments that do not provide adequate support to the breasts. So invest in a good nursing bra with firm support.
6. Wean the baby gradually
Rapid weaning is often a cause of clogged milk ducts. If you are planning to go back to work, consider pumping the milk before leaving the house and also feed the baby before and after work hours.
7. Get adequate rest
Inadequate rest is usually a common factor behind clogged milk ducts. So get some sleep with the baby whenever possible.
8. Warm water and Epsom salts
If you have a blister or whitehead, soak the breast in warm water mixed with some Epsom salts. This will soften the plug. You can also apply warm olive oil on the blister.
9. Use sterilized needle
In case of nipple blisters or whiteheads, you might have to drain the plug by using a heated, sterilized needle on the blister’s head. Soften the plug first by soaking it in warm water or warm olive oil and then gently pry it open to allow drainage.
10. Warm castor oil
Soak a clean flannel cloth in warm castor oil and apply it to the breast. This remedy is effective in preventing pain and inflammation. Avoid using castor oil on open blisters or near broken skin. Rinse the breast before nursing the baby.
11. Drink plenty of water
Fluids can get the milk to move and prevent plugs. This is also recommended for clogged milk duct not pregnant women.
Eat a diet rich in Vitamin C, especially fruits like melons, strawberries and cantaloupes.
13. Homeopathic remedy for clogged milk duct
Silicea 10 C and Phytolacca 30 C potency can help in dissolving the clogs. Talk to a homeopath before using these remedies.
14. Soy leicithin capsules
These are recommended for women who suffer repeatedly from clogged ducts. Soy leicithin is a naturally occurring fatty acid and these pills are readily available in the market. They can help dissolve clots and plugs. Take 1 tbsp of the oil 3 times a day or 1200 mg of pill thrice a day.
If these home remedies do not show results, seek medical help immediately. Ultrasound therapy or other modern medicines/treatment options are available these days for this condition. Use them as prescribed to prevent breast abscesses and mastitis.