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Will A Clogged Milk Duct Eventually Dry Up? 4 Practical Solutions

Will A Clogged Milk Duct Eventually Dry Up

Clogged milk ducts, or blocked milk ducts, occur for various reasons. 

A clogged milk duct will present as a small, painful lump in the breast, and it can affect milk supply if they aren’t dealt with swiftly.

Clogged ducts usually only occur in one breast. The affected breast will often feel sore and hot to the touch. 

They can be relieved in various ways, but if you continue breastfeeding, you can keep up your breast milk supply and get rid of the blocked duct in as little as 48 hours.

Will a clogged milk duct eventually dry up?

This article is about milk ducts, what to do to prevent clogged ducts, treat clogged milk ducts, and happily continue on your breastfeeding journey.

While milk production may take a bit of a hit while you are actively experiencing a blocked duct, continuing to breastfeed should clear the affected breast eventually and get you back to where you should be as far as milk supply is concerned.

What is a clogged milk duct?

A clogged duct is when milk gets trapped in the duct and hardens or calcifies. Tiny, like a granule of sand or sugar, a clogged duct can cause a lot of pain, affect milk flow, and lead to serious breast infection if not treated.

The entire breast may feel sore, with sharp pain in the nipple, and you may experience a temporary decrease in how much milk you can produce.

This small and hard lump needs to be dealt with as soon as possible so that you are less at risk for developing mastitis.

What does a clogged duct feel like?

To deal with a clogged duct, you must first know how to identify one.

Plugged ducts can cause fever, body aches, pain in the breast tissue, redness of the affected breast, and cause a lump that you can feel beneath the skin.

Blocked milk ducts that are not treated can cause an infection called mastitis, which can reduce milk supply and slow milk flow as well as cause serious infection and illness.

A plugged duct is a small thing, but it packs a big punch.

Will A Clogged Milk Duct Eventually Dry Up

How to unclog milk duct

The question presented in this article is: Will a blocked milk duct eventually dry up? The answer is yes. If you continue to latch your baby to your breast, then you should be able to treat the clogged duct eventually.

Specific positions that allow gravity to work for you while nursing is also beneficial when working out a clogged duct. 

Leaning over your baby so your breasts are dangling over the baby’s mouth can work out a milk duct faster.

You can also get on all fours over baby and nurse this way, although this can be quite uncomfortable and takes a bit of work to do without risking or causing injury to yourself or the baby.

Always exercise safety when attempting a breastfeeding position you are not experienced in. Working out a clogged duct faster isn’t worth hurting yourself or your little one.

However, if this is all you do, the blocked milk duct may not dry up in time to prevent a reduction in milk supply and can sometimes become so painful that women choose to stop nursing altogether.

There are many other things that you can do to treat a clogged breast, and most of them are very simple and easy to do.

While you should always treat on your own as soon as possible if clogged milk ducts don’t go away within a week, seek medical attention before it leads to more serious issues that require antibiotics or surgical intervention.

You can do the following at home to combat a clogged duct.

1. Use a breast pump

Adding a few pumping sessions to your breastfeeding routine can help relieve blocked ducts. If you are exclusively pumping, this also works.

Due to a pump’s powerful and steady suction, a clogged duct can work out faster if you pump alongside nursing.

2. Use a warm compress

A warm compress placed on the affected duct for twenty minutes before feeding can help to work out clogged milk ducts. 

Heat is a big helper when it comes to both pain management and removing clogged ducts.

You can use a warm washcloth, a heating pad, or any other warm compress you choose. Hold it to the milk duct or affected area for twenty minutes, and then nurse or pump.

3. Massage and hot shower

A hot shower can do wonders for you and your blocked milk ducts. 

Hot showers allow you to use heat, steam, and gravity to clear the milk ducts of any trapped breast milk.

Massaging the breast while in the shower or hand expressing milk lightly while showering can help to clear a clogged milk duct faster.

4. Use a lactation massager

A lactation massager is a device that vibrates quickly and lightly on the blocked ducts, helping to work out the clogged milk duct.

A lactation consultant can steer you in the right direction on which massager is suitable for you and where to get one. But if you don’t want to buy one, there are other options.

A regular female vibrator on a low setting can do the trick. Ensure the adult toy is clean and sanitized before applying it to the infection site.

Another option is an electric toothbrush. Holding any of these devices against the clogged area and gently massaging the breast can help tremendously.

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What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a serious illness in approximately one to three percent of breastfeeding women in the US. It is often the result of a clogged milk duct that isn’t treated quickly.

The longer you let a clogged milk duct stay clogged, the more likely it is that you’ll end up with this potentially life-threatening illness.

Mastitis presents with flu-like symptoms and pain. Joint pains, body shivers, fever, and fatigue are all classic signs of this illness.

If you start to experience the above symptoms and have had an untreated clogged duct, don’t mistake it for a common cold or flu. Contact your healthcare provider right away.

This infection can also be caused by engorged breasts that are not emptied, often due to stopping breastfeeding cold turkey.

Engorgement happens when the breasts are full of milk that is not expressed, and more milk than is safe is being held in the breasts. Engorgement can also cause a clogged milk duct.

Will A Clogged Milk Duct Eventually Dry Up

What to avoid

Most clogged ducts are, unfortunately, just something that happens to a few unlucky moms when extra milk is trapped in the milk ducts. But some things can increase your risk of getting a clogged duct.

To avoid this painful affliction, stay clear of the following:

1. Milk blisters

These “blisters,” also called milk blebs, occur when the skin starts to grow over a duct. This traps the milk, and when milk is let down, the pressure builds in the duct, resulting in a painful white bump.

A bath with Epsom salts can help to exfoliate and soften the skin on the nipples. Women prone to dry and cracked nipples tend to have the most issues with this.

Moms swear by Epsom salt to avoid blebs.

2. Wearing a bra that is too tight

Too much pressure on the breasts and nipples can cause leaking breasts to become irritated.

While a gentle massage of the nipples and breasts can stimulate let down and help you to produce milk, constant rubbing and pressure and the moist heat produced by an ill-fitting underwire bra can clog the thin tubes that are your milk ducts.

3. Having a poor latch

A poor latch can mean a few things. Not only do you run the risk of your baby not getting enough milk, but you can also get a clogged milk duct because your breasts are not completely emptied.

When milk is left to sit in the breast, it can and sometimes does result in a clogged duct.

4. An irregular feeding schedule

If you don’t stick to a schedule for feeding your little one, either by nursing or pumping, it increases your risk of engorgement and clogged milk ducts.

Developing and sticking with a tight schedule can help produce more milk and prevent a clogged milk duct.

5. Small pump flanges

If your pump is not cleaned correctly or the flanges you use are too small, you increase your risk of a clogged duct.

Just like when wearing a bra that is too tight, the friction and rubbing on the nipple that a too small flange can cause can irritate the duct and cause clogged ducts.

Beating clogged ducts

Sometimes, even if you avoid all the triggers and risk factors for a clogged duct, you still end up with one. 

Warm water, heat, the consumption of fatty acids, more sleep, and less stress can all help you to rid yourself of this affliction.

Proactive activities, such as gently massaging the area, can help you rid yourself of this painful and pesky motherhood issue.

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