Did you know you can use your breast pump to clear a plugged duct? Dangle pumping is a simple method of relieving plugged ducts by using gravity and suction. If you’re familiar with dangle nursing, this is the same concept – dangle pumping is a great skill to have if you’re ever suffering from a plugged duct while at work or somewhere away from your baby.
Prepare for spills
Dangle pumping can be messy, so you’ll want to prepare with a towel or a few paper towels to have on hand or put under your breasts in case milk leaks. If you have a strong flow you might notice milk getting into your backflow protectors – that’s completely okay! That’s what they’re there for.
Get your boobs as close to hanging straight down as possible
There are a few different positions you can try, some of them more practical than others depending on where you are:
- Pump on your hands and knees. Use one arm to hold the flange to the breast; even better if you have a chair or stool to rest your shoulder on while holding the flange. This can be quite the workout, but it will get your boobs into the dangling position.
- Lean all the way forward while seated in a chair. Try to get your boobs as close to touching your knees as you can, or hang them between your knees.
- Lay on your stomach and prop yourself up with one elbow while holding the flange to effected breast.
How do I know it worked?
When a plugged duct is cleared you’ll feel immediate relief. You might even see the plug in your expressed milk – it will look stringy or like a bunch of small grainy chunks. This is totally safe for baby to drink. It’s just primarily milk fat.
You might feel a bit bruised in the area for a day or two, but you won’t feel that painful tenderness that is accompanied by a plugged duct. The important thing to know is that you will feel immediate relief, so there should be no question that the plugged duct has been unplugged.
If you’re not able to unplug a clogged duct after 2 days, or if you begin experiencing fever or chills, contact your care provider. Plugs can very easily turn into mastitis.
What else can I try?
Check out or complete guide for different methods you can try at home to clear plugged ducts.