This sounds like something that occurs in the plumbing system of your home, right? If only...
I experienced my first clogged duct recently when my daughter was 9 months (and from talking to many other moms, I am lucky it took this long to get one!). Because I am a serial researcher and googler, I want you to benefit from me and not have to spend as much time as I did searching for a solution. So here it is (although I really hope you never need this article!):
A clogged or plugged duct occurs when the milk duct within your breast becomes obstructed. In can be deep inside the breast or on the surface of the nipple. It typically only affects one breast at a time. You will usually feel a hard lump within your breast where it is clogged (the best way I could describe this was a tumor like feel). The breast can feel tender, sensitive, and painful.
I woke up one morning and my breast felt like my daughter hadn't nursed ALL night (and trust me, this doesn't ever happen!). I kept thinking, am I so exhausted that I fed her off of one breast every time she woke? No, I couldn't be that clueless right? Oh well, let me put her on that one now and that'll solve the problem. Well after her sleeping and nursing on my right breast for about an hour I realized something wasn't right. My breast felt hard, tender, and painful. I woke my husband up and instructed him to google it immediately. And lucky me, I realized I had a plugged duct.
Here is what I found to be the most helpful in resolving the plugged duct:
- Warm Shower: Turn the water up as hot as you can handle and let it rain down over your breast.
- Use a Comb: Take a comb and run it (pressing fairly hard- this might be a bit painful) from the top/outermost part of the breast down to the nipple focusing on the area you feel the clog. It helps to do this in the shower.
- Massaging the Breast: Now this is probably going to heart but try to massage the breast as hard as you can to help work the clog out.
- Nurse, Nurse, Nurse: Don't stop nursing when you get a clogged duct as this it is so important. Baby will likely be your best bet of getting a clog out!
- Take Ibuprofen: This can help you through the pain and also potentially reduce some inflammation.
- Try to Pump or Hand Express: You can hand express or pump extra to help loosen the clog. This is especially helpful if baby can't nurse or is nursing less due to the clog. But baby is still your best bet.
- Relax: I know, this one isn't easy. Try to lay low and just relax and nurse baby as often as you can.
If all else fails, I have heard one more piece of advice but it is not for everyone and may take some serious convincing but hey, desperate times right? Some women have luck with their partner sucking to dislodge the clog. I'm not telling you what do, just throwing another option out there!
Clogged ducts are certainly a huge inconvenience and NOT fun at all, but you want to make sure you take care of it the best you can so it does not turn into mastitis. Even after it is gone, it may stay sore for a few days so make sure to keep an eye on it and nurse frequently.