One of the scariest and most painful things about breastfeeding is the chance of developing a clogged milk duct. When I started breastfeeding my first daughter I remember doing everything in my power to make sure that nothing got plugged and the milk flowed as smoothly as possible. Massaging? Yep. Nursing on demand? Always. Wearing bras that didn't smash my boobs? Duh. And although some of the hacks out there may be just old wives tales that don't actually make a difference, there is one clogged ducts hack that will get milk flowing better than any of the other tips and tricks out there.
But first, a little bit about clogged ducts, so you know what you're dealing with. According to La Leche League, a clogged duct can be caused by a few different things, including improper latch, not nursing/expressing enough, incorrect pumping, skipped feedings, or even wearing a bra that is too tight.
A few of the most common signs of a clogged duct according to Baby Center are severely engorged breasts that become red or hot to the touch, or noticing a small, tender lump (ranging anywhere from the size of a pea to a not-so-small peach.).
So what can you do to get rid of the pain? (Because you definitely need to get rid of them— clogged ducts left untreated can lead to infection, or mastitis.) Experts say that your biggest "tool" to getting the milk flowing again is none other than your baby.
Although upping the frequency of feedings is probably the last thing you want to do — this sh*t is painful — your baby's sucking is more powerful than any breast pump or massaging technique. Nursing often on the affected side will help dislodge the clog quicker and ensure that your breasts are at least being emptied a bit.
If you're having trouble getting your baby to latch properly or struggling with releasing any milk, try taking a hot shower, massaging your breasts with a few drops of lavender essential oil, and nursing your baby on your hands and knees, letting gravity do some of the work for you.
Although it may take some patience, and a few successful nursing sessions, eventually your baby should be able to drain most of the milk from your breast. Otherwise, be sure to seek medical help, as mastitis is definitely not something to mess around with.