Blocked Milk Duct? Mastitis? Here’s What To Do

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
12:00 pm

Photography by James Kicinski-McCoy

If you are experiencing severe pain in your breast and there is swelling, a visible lump, redness, and a strong, hot, burning sensation, you are could be suffering from a blocked milk duct or mastitis—an inflamed breast, usually caused by infection. You may have heard that a blocked duct and mastitis are one in the same, but the two are completely different. A blocked duct does not need to be treated with antibiotics, because it’s not an infection. Mastitis, on the other hand, is much more painful than a blocked duct and is accompanied with high fever (over 101 degrees), and oftentimes chills, fatigue, anxiety, and terrible aches and pains.

First things first, call your doctor to determine what exactly the diagnosis is, before you begin treating it. You may be prescribed antibiotics for mastitis, but most blocked duct cases end up going away on their own. In the meantime, here are several natural remedies that you can try to ease the pain and encourage faster healing.

Rest. As simple as it seems, mothers lack sleep, and mastitis is a way of telling your body to “slow down.” Sneak in naps as much as you possibly can.

Constant Nursing. There is no danger to nursing your baby while having mastitis, and you should continue to nurse albeit painful, as it helps to clear the infection and stopping will increase swelling and pain.

Heat and Ice. Help fight off the infection by applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to the location of the mastitis. Hot baths are also recommended. Switch off heat and ice in 20 minute intervals to decrease swelling and pain.

H2O. Drinking lots of water will only help your body fight the infection, and for newborn mothers, it will keep the milk supply up.

Raw Garlic. Garlic works wonders for infections. Mince the garlic, put small amounts on a spoon, and swallow it whole, chasing it with water.

Probiotics. Keep your immune system strong to fight the infection by taking daily probiotics.

Therapeutic Grade Lavender Oil. Apply 3 times a day tot he affected breast to help speed up recovery.

Poultice. Apply rosemary, fenugreek, and dandelion herbs to the affected breast (in paste form) while resting.

Cabbage Leaves. Drape a cabbage leaf over the affected breast four times a day, for an hour each.

Massage. After feeding, massage the breast towards the nipple, which will help increase healing of the infection.

Remember to contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have mastitis or a blocked duct, you may need medical and antibiotic treatment.

Dolce Soft Bra from Cosabella.

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Erika Lentini

I’ve had so many clogged ducts that I have lost count. I’m not a LC but my personal experience has luckily made me become very resourceful. One thing that I have done when the clogged duct is particularly stubborn is to get in a hot shower and place my turned on electric toothbrush (you could use anything that vibrates, hint hint) along the area with the clog and massage down towards the nipple. That and allowing gravity and baby to do the work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nursed my son while being on hands and knees over him, dangling my boob down while he is on his back. These two things have been the most helpful. Clogged ducts hurt lIke hell and can quickly lead to mastitis if not drained. Nurse nurse nurse and drink plenty of water, too.
There was also the one time I had a milk blister, which is where the external opening is blocked and you have what looks like a pimple on your nipple anytime your milk tries to come down and out. I used a sterile needle to remove the excess tissue that was blocking it. Instant relief. Literally the backed up milk just sprayed out….. And TMI…..

MASTITIS: HOW TO PREVENT IT & HELP YOURSELF (OR A FRIEND) THROUGH IT | Jennifer Lezak – Lactation Consultant, Los Angeles | Milkmade LA

[…] who call with early symptoms of mastitis is a simple routine: Heat, Rest, Empty the Breast. Some home remediescan include resting, drinking lots of fluids, eating Vitamin C rich foods or a Vitamin C megadose of […]