Clogged milk ducts can cause pain, inflammation, and even a low-grade fever. Left untreated, a clogged duct can result in an infection known as mastitis. Clogs can develop for many reasons including oversupply, weaning, changes in feeding schedule, and stress. It's important to take prompt action to treat clogs. Here are a few effective remedies for clogged milk ducts.
Warmth can help ease discomfort while loosening the clog. Try standing in a hot shower and allowing the water to flow over the breast. A 20-minute soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts may help as well. When it's impractical to get into the tub or shower, apply a heating pad or warm cloth for 20 minutes at a time.
Change the Feeding Position
It's best to fully drain the affected breast after every feeding. If the baby doesn't fully drain the breast, the mother may need to use a pump. Changing the feeding position can also make it easier to drain the breast and release the clog. The mother should try placing the baby on the floor and positioning herself over the child on knees and elbows. Allowing the breasts to hang during feeding can help with a clogged duct.
Alternately, it may help to position the baby so their nose or chin points toward the clog. Changing the angle in this manner can adjust the suction such that it's able to dislodge the clog.
Gently Massage the Breast
Gently massage just above the clog, pressing downward and toward the nipple. Use a sweeping motion to encourage movement of the clog. Mothers may also find relief using a gua sha massage tool. This smooth-edged instrument is used to apply smooth strokes in a downward motion.
Apply a Potato Poultice
A potato poultice is a time-honored remedy for clogged milk ducts. Slice a potato thinly and apply the slices all over the affected breast. If this is too cumbersome, a shredded potato works as well. It's easiest to simply lay in a comfortable spot with the poultice in place for 20 to 30 minutes. Busy moms who don't have the downtime can place plastic wrap on top of the potatoes to keep the moisture contained and wear a soft bra on top.
If the clogged duct doesn't resolve itself within two days, it's best to contact a healthcare provider. A physician can make sure there isn't a more serious issue going on and provide much-needed relief from the discomfort of a clogged milk duct.