If you've ever experienced a blocked milk duct then you'll know exactly how painful they can be. What starts as a tender lump can quickly turn into widespread inflammation and pain and, if not cleared, can eventually lead to mastitis. OUCH!
What causes blocked milk ducts?
A blocked or clogged milk duct is usually caused by a build up of milk that becomes trapped. While it's not 100% clear what causes the build up, it's thought that insufficient draining of the breast is usually to blame. This can happen for a whole host of reasons including:
- a poor latch
- oral restriction issues (like a tongue or lip tie)
- a longer than usual period between feeds (i.e. if your bub slept through the night or for longer than they usually do)
How will I know if I have a blocked duct?
While a hard lump is a very obvious sign of a blocked duct, you may not immediately notice or feel one. Usually the breast will become tender and engorged and often look red and inflamed. If you feel around, you'll usually be able to feel a lump somewhere, though it can be quite deep in the breast tissue.
Some women will also notice a nipple bleb or white spot/blister. These indicate a blocked nipple pore which can lead to issues further back in the breast tissue.
How to use your Haakaa to clear a blocked duct
We've always known that the Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump is a pretty amazing tool to have as a breastfeeding mama, and learning about this clog busting tip just confirmed its status as a total hero product.
By combining the gentle suction of the Haakaa with the heat from warm water and drawing abilities of Epsom salts, you can effectively clear blocked and clogged ducts.
Here's how to do it:
- Fill your Haakaa with enough warm water to make contact with your nipple. Make sure that the water is warm but not scalding hot as you don't want to burn yourself.
- Add one or two tablespoons of Epsom Salts.
- Attach your Haakaa to the blocked breast and allow the combination of heat, the salts and suction to help remove the clog.
- Keep the pump attached for between 10-15 minutes. You may need to repeat several times for large and/or stubborn clogs.
Other things that can help
Blocked milk ducts can be extremely stubborn and it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve to manage them. While the Haakaa hack works very effectively, combining it with the following can mean that blockages are resolved a little more quickly.
Try the following to help shift blocked ducts and prevent them from occurring:
- Use heat - Apply a heat pack or pad before and during feeding and/or using your Haakaa.
- Incorporate massage - Massage, either using firm pressure from your hands or a lactation massager, can help to break up clogs making them easier to shift. You can incorporate massage into both feeding and pumping sessions.
- Lecithin - Incorporating a high potency Lecithin supplement into your diet can help prevent blocks from occurring by decreasing the viscosity (stickiness) of your milk.
For more information on managing a whole range of breastfeeding concerns, click here