Aussie mum, Emily has revealed a quick and easy way to clear a blocked milk duct, using nothing more than water, a Haakaa Breast Pump and Epsom Salts.
“Meet my breastfriend – my Haakaa Gen 3! I use it almost daily to collect milk but this week I was able to use it to help clear a blocked milk duct before it turned into mastitis. By using my pump (10 minutes at a time), making sure bub fed from the blocked breast at each feed and lots of massages – my blockage cleared up in 24 hours.”
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Emily used the following steps to unblock her milk duct:
- She filled her Haakaa with warm water
- Added a tablespoon of Epsom Salts
- Gave it all a good shake in the Haakaa
- Then she pulled back the flange of the Haakaa, squeezed the bottle, and attach the pump to the breast
- Voilà! The Epsom Salts and water did their thing.
What are blocked milk ducts?
Milk ducts are tiny tubes that carry breast milk from deep inside the glandular breast tissue to the nipple openings. The Australian Breastfeeding Association explains that from time to time, ducts can become ‘blocked’, and as milk accumulates behind the blockage it can cause a lump and associated redness and pain. Sometimes mamas with a blockage may even notice a white dot on the nipple too.
What causes blocked ducts?
According to Breast Imaging Victoria, the most common cause of blocked milk ducts is undrained milk. This can happen if bub isn’t latching correctly, your breasts are engorged from not feeding enough, you’ve missed a feed, or you’re waiting too long before feeds – like when they finally sleep through the night for the first time!
Another possible cause is increased pressure on the breasts; tight-fitting bras, underwire, even baby carrier straps have the potential to cause a blocked milk duct.
And then there’s dehydration and fatigue, which can both play a big role in disrupting milk supply and causing duct blockages.
How to clear a blocked milk duct
If you have a blocked milk duct it’s important to try and empty the breast of milk as completely as you can to resolve the blockage. Find a comfortable breastfeeding position and encourage baby to feed on the side that is blocked when their sucking is strongest.
Other things you can try to help relieve blocked ducts include:
1. Have a hot shower: Hot water helps with let down, which in turn allows milk to flow and free a blockage. You can even try gently massaging the breast to see if that releases the blockage.
2. Use a warm compress: Putting a warm heat pack against your breast for a few minutes to help soften the lump. It’s really helpful to do this just before feeding to try and get things moving.
4. Feed from the affected breast: We know. The last thing you want to do is put baby on your breast if it’s sore but breastfeeding really does help clear a blocked duct.
7. Cabbage leaves: You’ve probably heard it before but putting a chilled cabbage leaf against your breast can have the same effect as a hot compress in easing pain and inflammation.
How to prevent getting a blocked milk duct
The best way to keep milk ducts from blocking is to maintain a healthy breastmilk supply and keep up regular feeds, making sure not to wait longer than usual between feeds.
Change positions with each breastfeed so bub drains different areas of your breast. Pack the underwire bras away for a while and wear comfortable, loose clothing.
And don’t forget, drink plenty of water.
Sometimes, after trying everything, that pesky blockage just won’t move. If that happens, and your breasts become inflamed, sore, swollen, red, or you feel sick like you have the flu and a fever, go to the doctor.
It may be mastitis, which is even less fun than a blocked duct.
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