Breastfeeding is rarely as smooth and straight forward as people imagine it to be. It comes with its own challenges and setbacks that sometimes make the task as difficult as it is rewarding and beneficial. One of the most common problems nursing moms face is dealing with the pain of a plugged duct. Blocked milk ducts can happen for a variety of reasons but, luckily, they're not a permanent pain you'll have to deal with. Learning how to massage breasts to clear a blocked duct along with other useful methods of treating the pain will help you clear the duct and minimize your discomfort.
According to La Leche League International (LLLI,) blocked ducts are one of the most common woes a breastfeeding mom faces, and massage is a very effective way to treat it. Although Baby Center noted that blocked ducts can be caused by a variety of things like changes in schedule, skipped feedings, a malfunctioning pump, or even a bra that is too tight, massage can help to loosen the blocked duct and get things flowing smoothly.
But how is a duct-clearing breast massage done? The aforementioned LLLI piece noted that moms should start their massage from the armpit down to the nipple after using a hot compress or taking a warm shower. Additionally, Kid Spot noted that breast massage can also be done while breastfeeding, to help clear the duct even more effectively.
According to the Dr. Sears website, pressure massage is another type of massage that can be effective for clearing a blocked duct. Unlike a regular massage, you don't move your hands rhythmically during a pressure massage. As the name implies, you'll start by applying pressure with the palm of your hand to the area closet to your chest wall that you feel pain. Press firmly, gradually increasing in pressure, until the pain subsides, and then move your hand down in half inch increments until you make your way to your nipple.
This type of massage is effective at targeting specific areas of your breast that are affected by a blockage. Much like with easing a knotted muscle, applying pressure can help dislodge the portion of your milk duct that is blocked.
Although a blocked milk duct can be incredibly painful, with proper treatment like massage and frequent nursing, the blockage can be loosened and your milk will flow freely in no time.