Clogged ducts are no fun, but rest assured, we’ve got the key to getting you over this road block and back on track! We are so committed to helping you have a healthy feeding journey! This is HeHe’s secret sauce to releasing blocked ducts, plus at the bottom, you will find a few tips on preventing clogged ducts in the future!
Time Commitment: 20-60 Minutes
What you need:
- Bowl that is deep enough to submerge your breast
- Hot water
- Epsom Salt
- LaVie massager or traditional vibrator
- Hand Pump (NOT a haakaa, you need one with a manual lever)
- Possibly an electric pump
Fill the bowl with warm water. The water should be as warm as you can stand it! Think the temperature of a hot bath or shower. The goal is to have it warmer than your body temperature so that it relaxes the tissues, blood vessels, and mammary glands in your breasts.
Add ⅔ cup of epsom salt. Stir until it is dissolved. This may cause the water to cool off too much. If that happens, simply warm the water up again.
Place the affected breast into the bowl, submerging as much of your breast as possible. *If the water is too hot, remove your breast and wait a few minutes for the water to cool.
Grab your vibrator or your LaVie massager and turn it on. Place it firmly against the blocked duct (usually a red, somewhat swollen area on your breast).
You’re going to stay here for 10-12 minutes. Keep your breast completely submerged and the vibrator on the clogged duct.
Next, removed your breast and dry it off. Turn off the vibrator. Grab your hand pump and pump for 3-5 minutes. The blocked duct may release.
If the clog doesn’t release, had back to the bowl + vibrator step. Don’t forget to rewarm the water. Do this for another 10-12 minutes, followed by the hand pump.
If the clogged duct still doesn’t release, repeat the water + vibrator for another 10-12 minutes. Following this “session,” you’re going to grab your electric pump. Begin on level 3-5. Do not pump more than 10 minutes as we are also being mindful of the messages we are sending your body about your milk supply.
Still Didn’t Release?
If a pump, whether hand or electric, doesn’t pull out the clogged duct, you have one last hail mary! Your baby can help! That’s right, your baby’s suck may be just the force that you need to release a clogged duct. You are going to do what we call “dangle feeding.” Before you dangle feed (between the electric pump and dangle feed), go back to the water + vibrator step for another 10-12 minutes.
Instead of grabbing a pump this time, grab your baby! Lie your baby on a flat surface, on their back. Get on hands and knees, and dangle the affected breast to their face allowing them to latch to feed. The trick? Point your baby’s chin towards the cogged duct. The power of your baby’s suck should be enough to release the blocked duct, especially after all the pump work.
You baby can consume the blocked duct. It will be thick and you want to be mindful of choking, but nutrition-wise it is totally fine for your baby to swallow the blocked duct. The block may contain a bit of blood or appear light pink, this is still safe for your baby to eat. If it comes out while you are pumping, it most likely won’t fit through a bottle nipple, so feel free to fish it out and toss it!
When to Contact Your Doctor:
If you want to call your doctor at the first signs of a clogged duct, then go for it! Otherwise, if you’re not able to unclog the duct, call your healthcare provider. If you develop a fever, give your provider a call and if the duct becomes more swollen or increasingly red/sore.
Preventing Clogged Ducts in the Future:
Sunflower Lecithin-- This is a supplement that I always suggest talking to your doctor about if you get more than 1 clogged duct. The way I look at it is, they are preventable. If you have one clogged duct, I usually consider it a one-time-deal, but if you’re experiencing recurring blocked ducts, that isn’t right. I mean, just listen to the name--blocked ducts or clogged ducts. Sunflower Lecithin can be so helpful in preventing this. Talk to your doctor about using Sunflower Lecithin to help support healthy breasts and a smooth breastfeeding journey.
Hydration-- Make sure you are staying extra hydrated as water plays a huge role in your breast health and your breastmilk production.
Bras-- Be sure you are wearing bras that are supportive of breastfeeding or nursing breasts. This means no bras that restrict your breasts or keep them tightly bound to your chest. It also means avoiding bras that have underwires, too. Sports bras are hit or miss. Some folks can manage a healthy, no clogged duct supply while wearing sports bras and some can not.
Draining your breasts-- When you feed your child or pump, make sure that you are completely draining your breast. This is twofold because if you are leaving milk in your breasts after a nursing or pumping session, not only can it cause clogged ducts (and mastitis!), but it can also impact your supply as your breast will think you don’t need to produce that much milk.