This blog post will highlight all natural treatment options for plugged milk ducts and mastitis.
This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. See my full disclaimer here. In the event of an emergency or if you have any questions or concerns about your health, always seek the help of your medical doctor, midwife, or head to the emergency room.
First off, why do Plugged Milk Ducts & Mastitis happen?
Your breast milk flows through a system of ducts and sometimes a duct can become plugged or clogged because something is blocking it or the milk is not flowing well.
For example, after I had baby #4, I was repeatedly experiencing plugged ducts on the outer sides of my breasts. I discovered it was because the style of nursing bra I was wearing was restricting milk movement in those areas.
If the plug or blockage is not not cleared, an infection (mastitis) can develop. Mastitis can also be caused by a build-up of milk in the breast (from engorgement for example), causing swelling and inflammation. Mastitis can also be brought on by bacteria entering the breast through a cracked or injured nipple, or if you are very run down or stressed out.
Signs of a plugged milk duct:
- tender lump in one area
- tender area may be slightly red (or not)
Signs of mastitis:
- a hard, sore lump
- a very painful breast
- redness on the breast (or not)
- achey, flu-like symptoms
- low grade fever
action steps to clear plugged milk duct & get milk flowing
- NURSE, nurse, and nurse some more – get that milk flowing!
- stay hydrated!
- always begin nursing sessions on the affected breast, aiming baby’s nose towards the sore area or lump. If babe doesn’t completely empty breast, consider pumping or hand expression
- ensure baby is latched on well – if you are unsure, reach out to a lactation consultant
- consider dangle nursing – lay baby on the bed or on your lap and lean over them for feeds
- gently massage the affected area while nursing – working towards the nipple
- apply warm washcloths or a heating pad to the affected area prior to nursing sessions (it not only feels nice, but encourages milk flow!)
- ditch the bras to prevent any restriction of milk
- slow down, relax and delegate duties to other people – focus on you, mama
natural tips and tricks FOR PLUGGED MILK DUCTS & MASTITIS
- sunflower lecithin
- Earthley’s (this is an affiliate link which I will earn a commission from) milk flowin salve. This salve is amazing – it works SO well!
- immune boosters, like: vitamin C (try to get your C from whole food sources. When I need to up my daily amount, I make gelatin gummies with vitamin C powder from acerola cherries or baobab), echinacea, elderberry syrup, etc.
- as in any illness, help support your body with nourishing foods and lots of rest
- potato slices: a remedy mentioned to me by my midwife is to slice a raw potato and apply it to the affected area to help draw out the infection. I haven’t included cabbage leaves as they can decrease milk supply.
- homeopathic remedies: the most important in the list! See below.
4 Homeopathic remedies for plugged milk ducts & mastitis
The following are commonly used homeopathic remedies to treat plugged milk ducts and mastitis. Try to match your symptoms as closely as you can to one of the below remedies. The homeopathic remedy will help & work with your body to clear the milk duct or infection. Your body can heal when the correct remedy is chosen!
Think of Belladonna for mastitis that comes out of nowhere with a high fever and throbbing pain. The breast will be red, hot and swollen. If the breast is not fully red, there may just be red streaks extending out from the nipple. The breast will be sensitive to any touch or sudden, jarring movements. There could be an accompanying bad headache and light sensitivity.
Think of Bryonia for mastitis if the breast pain is worse when you move around, and better from support of the hand or while at rest (many moms seem to lay on the painful side to prevent movement). The affected breast is very hard, hot, swollen & painful. There will be little to no redness of the breast & it is a slower onset than if Belladonna is needed. The mama may be very grumpy & very thirsty.
Think of Phytolacca if the breast is lumpy, hard and tender. The pains are stinging or shooting and may radiate to other parts of the body while breastfeeding. The breast may have a purple-y hue. The pain is not as intense as it would be if you need Belladonna of Bryonia. In fact, phytolacca is sometimes needed after bell. or bry., to complete clearing the duct or infection.
Think of Silicea if mastitis has become a chronic (recurring) problem (& make an appointment with a homeopath – see below!). The breast may be red/pink with painful cracks in the nipples. It’s a very helpful remedy to use when an abscess forms, to drain the pus.
New to homeopathy?
Please take a read through this blog post to learn how to use the homeopathic remedy that you choose to be the best fit from the list above.
what potency (strength)?
12C or more commonly, 30C, are the potencies that are typically used for plugged ducts and mastitis (unless otherwise noted).
In this linked blog post you will also learn that for less intense situations (ex, a plugged milk duct) you will take the remedy less frequently than for a more intense situation (ex, mastitis). You may need to re-dose every hour in the beginning, but the time between dosing will lengthen as you improve.
bonus remedy & cell salts
HEPAR SULPH 6CH can be added 2-3x per day in addition to the above remedy that you choose, to assist the body to heal the infection. Take at different times that your main remedy or cell salts.
CALC FLUOR 6X for a hard lump.
FERRUM PHOS 6X for immune system support & to support inflammation.
NATRUM PHOS 6X, in early stages to promote reabsorption.
SILICEA 6X to prevent mastitis in early stages, or day to day if prone you are recurrent infection. Can also be used if an abscess develops.
Constitutional treatment & recurring mastitis
Constitutional treatment is when you have an appointment with a homeopath and discuss all of your complaints/symptoms/health concerns.
Usually there is a single problem for the main reason that the appointment was booked (ex, recurring mastitis, or another chronic (long lasting) or recurring condition), & sometimes along with minor annoyances. You discuss all aspects of your health/history/life.
If mastitis is a recurring problem for you, it is a great idea to seek out the care of a classical homeopath to help uproot the cycle.
Is to be prepared! Each one of the remedies & cell salts listed in this blog post can be used for other purposes, so even if you never end up needing them for mastitis, they’ll find another use down the road. And if plugged ducts or mastitis do occur, you’ll be ready to stomp on it!
Save for later & share with your mama friends! Plugged ducts & mastitis can be treated at home – you just need to have a plan of attack & the right remedies on hand.