Breastfeeding has been one of the greatest gifts and joys of motherhood for me. It has not come easy though. From the pain in the beginning, pumping multiple times a day when I returned to work, the uncomfortable oversupply, then dips in my supply and clogged ducts, I can truly say it’s been a labor of love. I’ve had mastitis 3 times in the last 14 months. I’ve learned so much from these experiences that I want to share with you, so that you can detect a clogged duct early on and have the tools you need on hand to heal it.

So, how can you tell when a clogged duct is coming on? It may feel a little different for everyone, but early signs include pain or tenderness while nursing or in a specific part in your breast, a lump in your breast, redness or sudden engorgement even though you are nursing or pumping as usual. Most of the tools I’m going to share with you are inexpensive, and a great investment in your breastfeeding journey. When treated early on, you can be feeling better within 24 hours. 

Massage, Nurse, Pump, Repeat

The first thing I do when I notice symptoms of a clogged duct, is pump and empty my breast completely. Begin massaging while you’re nursing or pumping in downward strokes towards your nipple in the area you feel the tenderness. A vibrating massage wand can be used to target and help release your clogged duct and give your fingers some rest. Another great technique, is getting on all fours and letting your breast hang while nursing your baby underneath you. As uncomfortable as it may be, continuing to regularly empty your breast completely is SO important to break up that clogged duct and avoid mastitis.

Sunflower Lecithin

This amazing supplement helps to decrease the viscosity (or thickness) of your breastmilk by increasing the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it easier to flow through our ducts! It comes in capsule or powder form. This works wonderfully as a preventative if you find you are prone to clogged ducts, or you can take a high potency dose as soon as you begin feeling symptoms to help get things flowing. This is one supplement I always keep on hand these days! My favorite brand is the Legendairy Milk.

Heat

Not only is heat soothing for the pain, it can also help break up the clog and get things moving. Whether it’s standing in a hot shower, taking a warm bath, using a heating pad or a rubber water bladder, this is an excellent way to bring yourself some relief.

Epsom Salt and Haaka Flush

By using the gentle suction of the Haaka hand pump, the heat from warm water and the drawing abilities of Epsom salts, you can quickly find some relief from your clogged duct. Fill your Haaka with just enough warm water that it comes in contact with your nipple and add about two tablespoons of Epsom salts. Place the Haaka on your breast using suction, and leave on for about 10-15 minutes. If you don’t have one already, you can purchase a Haaka Silicone Breast Pump for about $13 here.

Relax

Did you know that stress can be a cause of clogged ducts? In fact, every single time I’ve had mastitis I was going through a particularly stressful time. Our bodies react and try to communicate to us in different ways that we need rest. As mothers, this message can come through as a clogged duct. When you feel that pain coming on, try to slow down as much as possible. Sleep a little more, nap with the baby, take a long hot bath – do whatever you can to take care of yourself so your body can heal.

By using these tips and detecting your clogged duct early on, I’m confident you’ll be feeling better in no time and be able to avoid mastitis. Remember, clogged ducts are a totally normal part of breastfeeding and this too shall pass, mama!

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