Plugs represent thickened milk caused by ineffective removal of milk, pressure on the ducts, stress and fatigue, and sometimes for no good reason. A lump may be detected that is firm and warm to the touch, milk flow is usually poor even though breasts feel full.
Very often, mothers would massage lump aggressively or even apply heat on area. Both methods can be very stimulating and may make things worse if milk removal is not efficient.
Some stubborn lumps may take a few sessions to clear. Keep to 1 hour for each session. You may wish to apply cold compress immediately after expressing milk to prevent breast from filling up quickly. You know you are on the right track if the lump is softer.
Tips if you are suffering from plugged ducts:
- Check for patent pores on nipple in sector similar to the location of lump in breast.
- If you notice there is a lack of milk ejection reflex with your breastpump, try to massage nipple/ areola and hand express to encourage a milk ejection reflex (letdown).
- Apply breast compression at lump during a letdown.
- Position baby with his chin in the direction of the plugged area.
Eliminating saturated fats from your diet and taking lecithin supplements may help prevent recurring plugged ducts. Lecithin works by decreasing the viscosity (stickiness) of the milk by increasing the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the milk. It is safe to take, relatively inexpensive, and seems to work in at least some mothers. Recommended dosage: 4 caps x 1200mg
- If you fail to clear the plugged ducts, seek help from a lactation consultant as unresolved blockage may become infected and adversely affect milk supply.