tips for clogged milk ducts

Uh oh. It’s a Saturday morning. And you’ve woken up with pain in one or both of your breasts. If you’re looking for way to unplug or unclog a milk duct, look no further. The following is a huge list of tips and tricks to get rid of a clogged milk duct and combat mastitis, fast. I asked a ton of moms online for their best mastitis tips and here’s what worked for them.

Clogged Ducts & Mastitis Tips & Tricks from Moms Who Have Been There


One of the first mastitis tips my lactation consultant told me was to ditch my too-tight nursing bra. And she suggested switching to a lighter, looser fitting sleep & nursing bra. So first things first, I took a break from my regular nursing bras, and opted for two different things. One: a nursing tank during the day. The Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime Maternity & Nursing Tank is always my go-to. It gives me just the right amount of support without being too tight to cause problems. And because the drop down cups are easily accessible, I can nurse and pump the clogged milk duct out, no problem.

Consider switching bras!

I made sure to switch to my Organic Cotton Crossover Nursing & Sleep Bra at night. Again, I was still able to feel supported at night, without being too tight. And the organic cotton allowed for stretch and breathability. Plus, it helps keep nursing pads in place! At night when J starts to get hungry, it’s easy to bring him to my breast and night nurse. Underwire bras are more likely to cause clogged ducts, so using the sleep nursing bra is an easy switch. Need a great bra that lifts and supports? Check out Kindred Bravely’s Bras here! All the support, with none of the wires. And remember, the easier you make round-the-clock nursing and pumping, the quicker your clogged milk duct will resolve!

Ditch your underwire bra!

Under warm or hot water, massage the clogged duct in a circular motion towards your nipple. Use a lot of pressure if you can.

Get in the shower!

I found this to be one of the most helpful mastitis tips after and in between massaging in the shower.

Get in the shower!

Use a wide tooth comb! This way your hands and fingers won’t get tired. And I found that the harder material of the wide tooth comb made breaking up the milk clog so much easier. Make sure it’s not a flimsy comb and can handle some pressure. Also check that the “nubs” (pointed ends) are soft or rounded enough to not hurt you! Maybe even consider going with a shower safe wide tooth comb to make sure it’s water safe. Sometimes I’d even add a little soap to help.

A tip for massaging out clogged milk ducts in the shower

I know women that swear by this buzz-ing “breast” friend technique. All I can speak for is the electric toothbrush, ha, but it totally works! I’ve especially found my Philips electric toothbrush works way better than the cheap-o electric toothbrush. So I’m assuming the more powerful your electric friend’s buzz, the better. One that has been recommended to me multiple times is those Therapeutic Wand Massagers! Turn on your vibrator or electric toothbrush and roll over the clog, going in motions towards the nipple. Pump and knead on your breast over the lump with your other hand to really get that clogged milk duct out.

Use a vibrator or electric toothbrush!

Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do with a clogged duct and even if you’re stricken with mastitis. Nurse as much as possible on your clogged side. However make sure to continue to offer the other breast as well. You’ve already got one clogged milk maker, you don’t need another one! Try the football hold. Or reverse whatever hold you’ve been doing. This will reverse the suction in a new direction, and can help dislodge the clogged milk duct.

Nurse, nurse, nurse!

While I cant say I’ve ever done this, multiple people have told me this works for them. And most of them told me it was important to do this method within the first 24 hours so keep that in mind. To use a raw potato to get rid of clogged ducts and mastitis: Slice like 6 raw potatoes lengthwise into thin strips. Put in a bowl of water and leave for somewhere around 20 minutes. Once time is up, apply slices of raw potatoes to the breast. The women who suggested this say they covered their entire breast with the potato slices, not just over where the clogged milk duct was. If you try this method, you’ll have to tell me how it goes!

Try raw potato slices!

This can be a heating pad, a hot water bottle, a hot towel (I soak a towel with water, wring it out and pop it in the microwave). Whatever works. Women have suggested Hot Hands packs to stick into my bra, which totally worked!

Use heat!

Too much heat can actually cause swelling, which will only make it harder for the clogged milk duct to pass. Try an ice pack until five minutes before nursing or pumping that side to reduce swelling. And then a super hot shower to help your milk flow and let down before nursing. If you can, massage with a comb as mentioned above while in the shower.

Try an ice pack!

Maybe chat with your doctor or lactation consultant about first, but this is one of the biggest recommendations I was given. Especially for women who get frequent clogged ducts or bouts of mastitis! The huge majority of responses all told me that sunflower lecithin saved them. Women who had clogs all the time said it totally stopped once adding the lecithin. And good news is it’s available on Amazon and at all health food stores! There is also soy lecithin that is beneficial as well. And from a little research it seem like B-complex, thyme and even evening primrose oil have also been found to be helpful for breastfeeding and pumping moms to keep recurrent plugged ducts at bay.

Get sunflower lecithin!

Here’s where a little caution needs to come into play. I have heard great things about cabbage leaves for clogged ducts. But I’ve also heard about using them for drying up your milk supply. So. Use your brain and don’t overdo the leaves. From what I understand, as long as they are used infrequently for short periods of time, you should be fine. However, if you’re struggling with undersupply at all, I would highly suggest leaving this one until the very end.

Cabbage leaves?

Okay, hear me out. I know this one is usually a hard sell. Which is why I left it for last, ha. BUT, this one trick totally saved me when I went on a weekend getaway with my husband for 3 nights. I forgot any type of pumping mechanism and by the first night I was miserable. Hand expressing wasn’t really working for me. And my poor arthritic hands were just dying. So I begged my husband to help me out. Yes, it definitely took a little convincing, but he finally said yes. Just tell him: “you dont have to swallow”! HA. Because seriously, SWEET RELIEF! It only took him a few little sucks and oh my heck it instantly felt better.

Have your partner suck it out.