Have you recently had a clogged duct or mastitis? Often, exclusive pumpers notice a decrease in supply on the affected side. Here’s what you need to know about mastitis and milk supply recovery.
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Clogged ducts (also called plugged ducts or blocked ducts) are blockages that get in the way of milk flowing out of a milk duct. They are small, painful lumps that are tender to the touch.
If clogged ducts aren’t cleared quickly (more on how to do this here), they can become mastitis.
Mastitis is also called the “boob flu” because it has a lot of the same symptoms as the flu – a fever, chills, aches, fatigue – in addition the breast pain from the obstruction.
However, even after clearing the clog and getting over mastitis, many people notice a drop in milk supply.
Loss of supply after mastitis or a clogged duct
It’s typical to see decreased output on the affected side both while you have mastitis or a clogged duct, and after it’s cleared.
To get an idea of how common this is, I did an (obviously unscientific) poll on instagram:
This poll had about 2,500 votes, and over half of the people that responded noted that they had lost supply as a result of mastitis and/or a clogged duct.
Additionally, 19% of the people that responded had had more than one instance of mastitis and/or a clogged duct, and lost supply at least once, but did not at least once.
Finally, 30% did not lose supply at all when they experienced this.
Does milk supply recover after mastitis is resolved?
Many people who lose supply are concerned about whether or not their milk supply will recover after they resolve the clogged duct or get over mastitis.
I did another (unscientific) poll on what happened after this supply loss:
Of the people who lost supply, about 51% recovered it with time and no additional effort, while 20% saw a lasting drop.
Additionally, 29% of the people who responded were able to recover their supply using techniques to increase milk supply.
How to increase milk supply after mastitis or a clogged duct
So what should you do if you’re in the “have to work for it” group?
Here’s how I would start:
- If you missed some sessions while you were sick, get back on your schedule as best you can. If you’re dehydrated, make sure that you’re drinking fluids to thirst.
- When you have time, try pumping longer on the side that was affected by mastitis or the clogged duct. So say that you normally pump for 15 minutes, and you recently lost supply on the left side due to mastitis. You could pump both sides for 15 minutes, and then at the sessions where you have time, add another 5 minutes on the left side only.
- Eat oatmeal for breakfast (any kind is fine). Some people find it helps them pump an extra ounce or two.
- Use heat (a warm washcloth, or something like Booby Tubes – use the code PUMPING15 for 15% off) and massage when you pump on the affected side.
- Power pump (on either both sides or just the affected side). Power pumping simulates cluster feeding and can help increase supply by increasing demand.
Hopefully this helps you with recovering your milk supply after mastitis! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!