I mean I don’t want to brag but I’m really skilled at getting recurrent blocked ducts and mastitis. I could win medals. It sucks but it means I know a lot about dealing with clogged milk ducts and I have some handy tips on home remedies for clogged milk duct.
This post was first written in February 2016 and was last updated January 2023.
Home remedies for clogged milk duct
My experience of frequent recurrent clogged milk ducts, milk blebs and mastitis
I nursed my son for 2.5 years and I nursed my daughter for 4.5 years. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve had recurrent blocked ducts.
It’s possibly over a hundred and I’ve had mastitis in the double figures.
Once my partner had to take the day of work to help me because of it and it involved one of the best autocorrect fails ever. He texted his team to say he would be ‘taking a holiday because his girlfriend has mass tits’. Obviously, all the blokes came back saying they would take the day off for that too – so embarrassing!!
The slightest thing causes blocked ducts for me, especially in my right boob, or as its affectionately known around these parts, the mega boob.
Online advice kellymom blocked ducts and Jack Newman
There is a ton of advice online for dealing with this so I’m not going to go into it in depth. I’m just going to share my own personal tricks for dealing with it.
Firstly, as quick guide I follow kellymom’s advice. As well as Dr Jack Newman’s advice in chapter 11 ‘sore breasts’ of his Guide to Breastfeeding.
These two guides combined have never served me wrong.
Home remedies for clogged milk ducts I have tried
When you have a stubborn block that the baby can’t drain you will read and try all kinds of stuff to get that clogged milk duct clear.
Comb for clearing clogged milk duct
I’ve tried that almost medieval method where you use a comb over the breast in the shower. It did nothing for me and I’m not sure it’s particularly sane.
Clearing clogged milk duct – electric toothbrush
I’ve tried using electric toothbrush to clear a clogged milk duct. You can try a vibrator here too.
Clogged milk duct popping – disposable nappy
I used to fill a disposable nappy with hot water and put it over the area for while before expressing. The disposable nappy is a great trick as it stays warm for ages and doesn’t get you wet but still I had limited results with this method.
Clearing block milk ducts – older child or adult nursing
I’ve even had my husband try to clear a clogged milk duct for me and have had ones so stubborn even that didn’t work.
My top home remedy for clogged milk ducts – best hack
The most successful method, that has worked for me time and time again is clearing the clogged milk duct in the bath using a very specific technique.
I didn’t actually read about anywhere but found just by trial, error and desperation.
I’m claiming this method now and calling it ‘the nomipalony method for treating recurrent blocked ducts’ (catchy I know).
This is the best thing I’ve found that works. It’s definitely worth a try if you are struggling with a stubborn case of blocked duct or mastitis.
Run yourself a nice deep bath and lay in it for a bit and chill. Then once you are warmed through and relaxed, you manually hand express the boob whilst it is fully submerged under the hot water.
You need to know how to hand express to do this properly so have a look at some guides or videos online.
I work my way around the areola as if it’s a clock, making sure I try and get the milk coming from all the ducts until it feels like I’ve done as much as I can.
I’ve also found it helpful to do compression massage on the lump whilst doing this for added effectiveness.
The heat from the bath water really helps the clogged milk duct to come through.
You may also want to try adding Epsom salts to the bathwater as some say that helps even more – you can read all about Epsom salt and breastfeeding and how to do it safely here. There is also a tip in there about how you can add hot water and Epsom salt to the Haakaa breast pump to help with clogged ducts, mastitis and milk blebs.
This has the added benefit that hand expressing, if you are doing it right, is much gentler than a breast pump.
I then also immediately then put the baby on the breast again as soon as I get out the bath. The power of their latch and suck helps pull through any clogged milk duct that hasn’t clearer.
It’s also winning because you get to take a bath but you might need someone around to watch the littles because it can take a bit of time to do this.
Definitely try to prioritise it if you can because it does work. Or at least it does for me – if it works for you too please let me know in the comments.
Everyone who I’ve had try this so far has had some degree of success.
My breast is red and sore still – how do I know the home remedies for clogged milk ducts has worked?
It may seem a bit painful and red after this even if it has worked. The key to knowing it has worked is – is the lump any smaller? Is it less painful to nurse through?
It can take a few days or so for it to die down fully but it should be improving within 24-48 hours, even if it’s slow improvement.
Try not to be disheartened if at first it still seems red and sore. It might just need a bit more recovery – in essence it was an injury and the tissue needs to recover.
Recurring milk bleb in same spot? Recurrent blocked milk duct?
I’ve been struggling with this issue since 2012. Shout out to the excellent Dr Jack Newman and his team, who first gave me hope for getting through it back in April 2012 when I was stuck in a 4 month constant recurrent blocked duct/mastitis/milk bleb vicious cycle.
I desperately needed help and was getting none from the British healthcare system who at every turn either didn’t know what I was dealing with or just told me to switch to formula. I wanted to continue, I just needed help.
It was frustrating and exhausting but Dr Newman replied to a desperate email from me one Sunday night, straight after I sent it, with a lot of helpful advice. We need more Jack Newmans. Especially in Britain.
Hell more IBCLCs would be a big improvement. We have only 2 in the North East for a population of 2.61 million. Seems reasonable…
Anyway, Dr Newman said something to me which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time and if you are in the throes of a hideous cycle of doom then you may need to hear it too.
He said, ‘Remember, however, that recurrent blocked ducts/mastitis often, usually, in fact, become much less frequent and even stop with time’.
Before he said this I had kinda lost hope, thinking it would never get better but it did. I got out of the cycle I thought I was stuck in.
I still get them more often than I should but not as extreme as at that time. If I can get through it and go on to nurse for years longer with fewer instances then you can too.
Hang in there sister, you’ve got this!
Top tips to prevent clogged milk ducts
In terms of preventing clogged milk ducts there is tonnes of advice online but what worked for me personally was the basics:
- Ensuring a good latch every time – no lazy latching and taking the baby off the breast if their latch was worsening at the end of the feed/whilst sleeping.
- Don’t skip feeds – try not to leave it too long between feeds and express if you need to. The Haakaa breast pump can be a good option to pop on your breast if you are feeling engorged but can’t do a full express or feed the baby. I also used this breast pump (affiliate link).
- Trying to get as much rest and sleep as possible. Without fail, every time I got run down I would get a clogged milk duct or mastitis or a milk bleb. Don’t self sacrifice. Ask for help. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first to mother your family.
- Avoid bras, baby carriers and bags that apply undue pressure to your breasts if you are prone to logged ducts.
Lecithin for breast engorgement
I don’t know how much this actually worked but I also took lecithin for breast engorgement to try and prevent clogged milk ducts. There is some research that indicates lecithin can help prevent breast engorgement and clogged milk ducts. I personally used these ones below.
My must have products for clearing clogged ducts
And if you have any questions to ask just leave me a comment as I always reply to them.
If you liked this post on home remedies for clogged milk ducts you might also like my ultimate guide to breastfeeding that gathers together all of my posts on breastfeeding from over the years, my Haakaa breast pump review or Breastfeeding and returning to work at 12 months.
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3 thoughts on “Home remedies for clogged milk duct”
Sorry, it took me forever to pop by, thanks for commenting on my bleb post. You’re a pro with blocked ducts related issues; I’ve only ever had them a few times and they’re definitely undesirable. Dr Newman and KellyMom are fab, aren’t they. I’m glad you found a method that works for you. As you said, it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for one’s body. And as you implied, it thankfully doesn’t last forever. 🙂 Keep boobing.
Thanks!! And thanks for commenting. It’s really hard sometimes isn’t it. And sometimes the method doesn’t work for me, lots of times it does though. Newman and Kellymom are ace!
That’s the fab thing about trial and error, today’s solution might not be tomorrow’s. ? so much discovery on this road. Those 2 are definitely fab.