When Sophia started breastfeeding her newborn daughter she expected a beautiful experience where she and her daughter would bond, but breastfeeding isn’t always easy. She noticed at times that her breast would hurt and sometimes she could feel a lump. Her baby was cranky too and seemed to be hungry even after a feed. The trouble wasn’t that her breast wasn’t producing enough milk, the trouble was that her milk ducts were clogged.

What are clogged milk ducts?

Milk ducts refer to the thin tubes that carry breastmilk from the locales to the nipple. When breastmilk is not fully drained or when there is excessive pressure built up within the breast, the milk in these tubes can thicken and cause a blockage. This blockage may feel like a tender lump. Clogged ducts are a common issue faced by nursing mothers. Unfortunately, it can be quite painful and may also increase the risk of mastitis.

Natural cures for clogged milk ducts

In most instances, a clogged milk duct will get cleared up in a few days but there are also a number of ways you can try to unblock milk ducts faster. Using a breast pump to express milk between feeds has proved to be very helpful. This milk can be stored and given to your baby at a later time or can be donated to a breastmilk bank for use by other mothers who cannot produce sufficient breastmilk for their babies. You should also avoid wearing tight-fitting bras and sleeping on your stomach.

If clogged milk ducts are a regular occurrence, your doctor may recommend increased consumption of lecithin. This is a phospholipid found in many types of food including sunflower seeds. It helps unclog milk ducts by increasing the level of polyunsaturated fatty acids in breastmilk and reducing its stickiness. Lecithin is found in a number of foods such as soybeans, meats, milk, peanuts and sunflowers.

What is sunflower lecithin?

Sunflower lecithin is extracted from the gum found in sunflowers. To get this gum, the sunflower must be dried and dehydrated. From here, the gum is processed through a cold press. Sunflower lecithin is one of the most popular ways to treat clogged milk ducts as sunflowers are organic and not processed with chemicals or genetically modified. Also, an allergy to sunflowers is very rare. Lastly, there are other benefits sunflower lecithin offers as well- for example, it’s good for brain function.

Other natural remedies –

Here are two other natural remedies that can help unclog milk ducts.

  • A hot shower and a massage

    Having a hot shower and massaging the breasts where you feel a lump can help dislodge the clogs. Use your fingertips and apply firm pressure on your breasts. You can also massage your breasts with olive oil. This can help relieve pain and soften breast tissue.

  • Let gravity work

    If clogged milk ducts are a frequent occurrence, change the way you nurse your baby. Get into the bridge position on your knees and elbows with the baby lying on the floor below you. Lower yourself till your baby can feed in this position.

In conclusion –

Sophia is not alone and there are many mothers who also suffer from clogged milk ducts while nursing their infants. If the ducts are not cleared on their own, sunflower lecithin may be just what you need to treat the condition. Whatever you do, do not stop breastfeeding.

Regular breastfeeding and manually expressing milk between feeds or when you are away from your baby can help reduce the frequency of such clogs. If you’re producing more milk than your baby needs, consider donating milk so you can help other mothers and their babies.