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Moms Like Me: Tips for Clearing Plugged Ducts

We asked other Balanced Breastfeeding mamas for their best advice for getting rid of a stubborn plugged duct and here are their responses:

Moving milk:

  • Nurse on the plugged side first at each feeding.
  • Nurse constantly, like you’re in a competition over who can nurse the most. Nurse, nurse, nurse!
  • Pump to remove milk that baby leaves behind.
  • Don’t sleep lying on the clogged side, as that encourages milk to settle around the clog.
  • Look for a milk blister on your nipple; if there is one and you can pop it, you may find the plug clears quickly.

Heat and Ice:

  • A hot shower, massaging downward while in the shower.
  • Warm compresses (alternate with cold compresses); a disposable diaper soaked in hot water makes a good compress, as does a heating pad on the low setting.
    • Use heat for a few minutes prior to nursing.
  • Use ice to reduce the swelling in the breast.
    • Use ice for 15-20 minutes between nursing sessions.


  • Massage the plug down and out with hand expression.
  • Massage the spot where you feel the plug while baby nurses.
  • Using a wide-tooth comb, apply pressure to the clog and “comb” it down toward your nipple.

Creative nursing positions:

  • The “dangle feed”: nurse the baby while on hands and knees with breast dangling over baby; this looks as ridiculous as it sounds, but gravity can encourage a clog to move.
  • Position baby’s chin to massage the clog as he nurses.


  • Have your partner or friend help you rotate the baby so his chin hits the clog.
  • Your partner can also help you hand express; yes, you’re basically asking your husband to milk your breasts like a farmer milking a cow.


  • An electric toothbrush can help alleviate the pain and break up the clog.
  • A vibrator/”personal massager” has the same effect.

Medications and supplements:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Lecithin helped this mom who struggled with plugged ducts, but made a baby this fat; yes that is cream on top!

    Sunflower lecithin for recurrent plugs, which thins your milk and encourages faster letdown, keeping the milk moving and helping thwart the congealing that leads to plugs.

  • Vitamin C.
    • 1000mg vitamin C taken three times daily to help prevent mastitis from kicking in.
    • Emergen-C is a good source of vitamin C; you can consume a lot of it each day and it also helps keep you hydrated.

Positive thinking:

  • Try not to get too anxious or panicky, especially when you first notice the plug. Remember that it will take a bit of time to work out; a plug doesn’t magically pop like a pimple.

Clever combinations:

  • Put the vibrator in your bra while you pump.
  • Massage downward while pumping or nursing.
  • Use a soapy comb while taking a hot shower.
  • Put olive oil on Lily Padz and wear inside your bra.