Clogged ducts are painful and can quickly lead to mastitis. If you are prone to recurrent plugged ducts, here’s what you need to know about taking lecithin to prevent them – how it works, what kind to get (soy vs sunflower lecithin), and what dosage to take.
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What is causing my recurrent plugged ducts?
Constantly getting clogged ducts will make anyone miserable.
1. Are you draining your breasts to (mostly) empty every time you pump?
It’s impossible to completely empty (as your breasts are constantly making milk) but you shouldn’t be leaving a lot of milk in your breasts from pumping session to pumping session.
If you are not mostly empty after each session, here are some strategies to remove milk more effectively and quickly with a breast pump.
2. Do you often miss pumping sessions or have to deviate from your pumping schedule?
This is totally understandable when you’re the new parent of an infant, but it could be contributing to the problem.
As long as you make changes gradually, your body should adjust to it and handle it better than frequently randomly missing sessions.
3. Is there anything rubbing against the affected breast(s)?
Some things that could be frequently causing clogs (by putting pressure on your breasts) include a wire in your bra, sleeping on your side or stomach, or a diaper bag or purse strap.
If you think this might be an issue, try making adjustments and see if it helps.
4. Have you had mastitis recently?
Is it possible that you have a case of subclinical mastitis that hasn’t resolved? Inflammation resulting from unresolved mastitis may cause recurrent clogged ducts.
It may be worth seeing your doctor and trying a different antibiotic if you think this may be the case. Make sure to complete the entire 10-14 day course.
Additionally – sometimes none of this is the case, and clogged ducts are just bad luck.
Why take lecithin for blocked ducts?
In addition to the above suggestions for resolving the underlying cause of recurrent plugged ducts, you may want to consider taking lecithin as an additional preventative measure.
Lecithin is a food additive that may help prevent clogged ducts in some people. If you’re prone to blocked milk ducts, lecithin may help reduce the frequency with which they occur.
How does lecithin prevent clogged ducts? Due to a lack of research, we aren’t sure, but here is one theory from Dr. Jack Newman:
Lecithin is a food supplement that seems to help some mothers prevent blocked ducts. It may do this by decreasing the viscosity (stickiness) of the milk by increasing the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the milk. It is safe to take, relatively inexpensive, and seems to work in at least some mothers.
What kind of lecithin for plugged ducts? Soy vs Sunflower Lecithin
Lecithin can be produced from a variety of sources, such as soybeans, eggs, milk, and sunflower. Producing lecithin usually involves extracting it from the raw source using a chemical solvent.
The short answer is – assuming you don’t have an allergy to soy or to sunflowers – it doesn’t matter. (You should avoid lecithin extracted from anything you’re allergic to.)
No research has been done showing the efficacy of either type lecithin as being better for clogged ducts than the other, and many people have found both soy and sunflower lecithin to be effective in preventing clogs.
(Legendairy Milk reached out and gave me a discount code for their sunflower lecithin. Take 15% off with the code EPUMP!)
How much lecithin should I take?
This is well under the 50g recommended maximum daily dosage.
How long does it take for lecithin to work for clogged ducts?
No research has been done to give us a definitive answer on this, but most people in our Facebook group who have used lecithin have noticed results within 24-48 hours.
Thinking about weaning from the pump? No idea where to start? Worried that you’ll get a clogged duct or mastitis when you stop pumping? Grab my one-of-a-kind guide here.References
- Bonyata, Kelly, IBCLC. “Lecithin treatment for recurrent plugged ducts.” https://kellymom.com/nutrition/vitamins/lecithin/
- Bonyata, Kelly, IBCLC. “Recurrent Mastitis or Plugged Ducts.” https://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/recurrent-mastitis/
- Institute of Food Research. “Hypersensitivity to food additives.” http://www.foodallergens.info/Facts/Additives.html
- LactMed. “Lecithin.” https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search2
- Newman, Jack, MD. “Blocked Ducts & Mastitis.” https://ibconline.ca/information-sheets/blocked-ducts-mastitis/