You feel soreness, maybe a swollen red area. It’s usually on one breast. This could be a plugged duct and it’s uncomfortable.This can happen if you had very full breasts and that pressure wasn’t comfortably relieved. Or your body needs more recuperative rest.
Pay attention to how you feel and address it now. Breastfeeding is supposed to be comfortable. Toughing it out can lead to mastitis.
If you have a temperature, the swelling is spreading, you are not getting better in 24 hours, call a health care provider. This blog describes practical, inexpensive therapies that you can do at home. The next blog, More Remedies 2, offers remedies that require a cost or specific item.
The goal, always, is to keep your milk flowing and keep feeding your baby this milk.
Motion: Circling your arms, rolling your shoulders and neck moves fluid and improves milk flow; even taking deep breaths moves fluids. Do this throughout the day along with breast massage.
Massage: The drawing (see inset) illustrates an easy technique to improve letdown. With just your fingertips, starting from below your collarbone, aside your ribs, up from your belly…stroke gently towards the nipple. North East South West, All four quadrants of the breast. (It rhymes!) A minute or two of this before you pump or feed is helpful.
The most excellent technique to address swelling and clogs is gentle breast massage. Review this wonderful video.
Start with warmth (a shower, or a warm compress) to open the capillaries before you massage. Then, using gentle fingertip pressure, move fluid through the tissues. This is not ‘pushing’ like muscle massage. When you find a clog, work around it first. It’s like clearing the path for the clog to move forward.
Warmth is helpful at first to facilitate massage. Please note: it’s cool compresses that reduces the swelling in your breast. Swelling means the milk can’t flow as easily and it’s why your supply may be lower. Once you recover, the swelling decreases, your supply will rebound.
Warm Water and Epsom salt is an easy remedy. Fill a sink with warm water; add one or two tablespoons of Epsom salts. Lean over the sink so your breasts hang and are submerged in the warm water. Gravity, Epsom salt and a little massage help to draw out the plug.
Turmeric can reduce swelling. Make a paste with turmeric powder and warm water. Put that in a cloth or paper towel and put it on the swollen area. Be forewarned, turmeric is a yellow dye that will stain your clothes, towels and sheets.
These are all things you can do at home fairly easily. When you treat it early on, it should resolve easily. Some plugs are stubborn, you may need other remedies. As always, listen to your body. Talk to your midwife/doctor if there’s no improvement or you just feel lousy.