- How do you relieve breast engorgement or clogged ducts?
This post is part of our complete guide on treating engorgement and clogged ducts. Refer back to the guide if you want a complete list of topics covered, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. If you're specifically interested in what you can do to relieve engorgement or clogged ducts, please read on!
How do you relieve breast engorgement or clogged ducts?
Engorgement or clogged ducts can be incredibly painful. It's a common issue, about 80% of nursing mothers will have it at some point. That doesn't make it less difficult to deal with. Let's look at the 5 things you can do to relieve the issue.
Keep a frequent and steady breastfeeding (or pumping) schedule
If you have engorged breasts or clogged ducts, your first step to tackling the issue is to ensure you keep a frequent and steady breastfeeding schedule, especially on the affected breasts. If for some reason your little one cannot breastfeed, you can substitute with pumping.
Engorgement or clogged ducts tend to appear because it’s the start of your breastfeeding and your body hasn’t adapted yet. It can also happen because you’ve confused your body by changing breastfeeding rhythm (by maybe missing a couple of breastfeeding sessions). In any case your body needs to learn or re-learn your breastfeeding schedule and you therefore need to keep it consistent and steady.
Obviously you also need to make sure that you latch your baby correctly to your breast so as to ensure they breastfeed appropriately. Your breasts need to be thoroughly emptied after each breastfeeding session.
Do not stop breastfeeding and do not breastfeed or pump more than usual
The worst thing you can do if you have engorged breasts or clogged ducts is to stop breastfeeding or breastfeed less than usual.
It can seem like the intuitive thing to do because of the pain in your breasts but if you do so you will just worsen the problem. Your body will still produce milk and, if it doesn’t go out, your milk will accumulate in your breasts leading to increased pressure and engorgement.
The second worst thing you can do if you have engorged breasts or clogged ducts is to breastfeed or pump more than usual.
It might get rid of the engorgement in the very short-term but by expressing more milk than usual you’re teaching your body that it needs to produce more milk. When you get back to a normal breastfeeding rhythm your body will still produce more milk than necessary and you’ll get engorged then. So really, breastfeeding or pumping more than usual when you have engorged breasts or clogged ducts is just delaying the issue, creating more problems down the line.
Drink an anti-inflammatory herbal tea like Unblock Nursing Tea
Another step you can take to tackle engorged breasts or clogged ducts is to drink a specialized herbal tea designed to unblock your breasts like Unblock Nursing Tea. Originally mentioned in a 1'500 years old Chinese medicine book, its 12-plant recipe has been used for centuries by Chinese women to deal with engorgement and blocked milk ducts.
It will help your body adjust to your breastfeeding schedule and will help alleviate some of the symptoms you encounter. It’s made with natural plants only and it’s rigorously lab-tested to ensure there’s nothing harmful to you or your baby.
See a specialized massage therapist
Massages after feedings have been proven scientifically to help with engorgement1. A specialized lactation massage therapist should know exactly what to do.
If you're willing to attempt massaging yourself we wrote this article describing how you should massage your breasts.
Alternatively you can also go see a Gua-Sha massage therapist (Gua-Sha is a form of Chinese medicinal massage): breasts massages with Gua-Sha have also been scientifically proven to reduce engorgement2.
Do not bind your breasts
It’s important not to bind your breasts with tight clothing or an inadequate bra. A bra that’s too binding or tight might in itself cause engorgement or plugged duct and will at the very least make you uncomfortable. Try wearing a supportive bra or even consider wearing no bra at all if that’s an option.
So to summarize, How do you relieve breast engorgement or clogged ducts?
- Establish a steady breastfeeding schedule and keep at it: do not breastfeed more or less than usual
- Drink a specialized herbal tea designed to unblock your breasts like Unblock Nursing Tea.
- Consider getting breast massages from a lactation massage therapist or a Gua-Sha massage therapist
- Wear a supportive bra that doesn’t bind your breasts.
1. Prevention of nipple tenderness and breast engorgement in the postpartal period.Storr GB. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1988 May-Jun; 17(3):203-9.
2. Chiu J-Y, Gau M-L, Kuo S-Y, et al. Effects of Gua-Sha therapy on breast engorgement: A randomized controlled trial. J Nurs Res2010;18:1–10
Article tags: Breastfeeding and maternity