Preventing Mastitis and Dealing with Plugged Ducts – What Worked for Me

When my second child was an infant, I was convinced I that my milk ducts had a tendency to plug up.  And if not dealt with promptly, mastitis could develop.  The last thing a busy mama needs is to be down sick.  But in most cases, busy mama’s body is warning her she needs to slow down.  What worked for me when I felt that painful lump in my breast?  Cabbage leaves!  And a few other things.

1. Rest – Decrease activities to the bare minimum. Find a good book and spend a lot of time with it on the couch.

2. Nurse often – Pointing baby’s chin toward the plugged duct seemed to help.  I had to get creative with positioning.

3. Apply heat right before a feeding to get the milk flowing – warm washcloth, hot pack/rice sock

4. Apply cold after a feeding – to reduce inflammation and numb pain.  A cold pack or cold rice sock will work and a cold cabbage leaf inserted in the bra will work great!  You can leave it there until the next feeding.  There’s something about cabbage leaves that lowers your milk supply which is very helpful when your trying to clear out the affected breast but you’ll want to keep that in mind and only use when necessary.

With my first 3 babies it seemed my problems with plugged ducts were only getting worse and worse.  Then with baby #4, I hit on the best preventative measure: proper positioning during nursing.  When moms first start breastfeeding, we often play close attention to positioning.  Then as we get more comfortable and baby gets bigger, the baby starts sliding down down down into our laps.  My littlest guy is 18 months old and I still nurse him like a newborn.  I keep his body straight and snug against mine; his bottom is not in my lap, it’s supported by my hand and his feet are out to the side where he can kick the husband sitting next to me.  Kinda like this picture.  With his head a little lower, of course 😉DSC_0687

(This is not intended to be professional advice for any medical condition.  It is simply the shared experience of one mother to another.)