If you’ve ever experienced a plugged duct, you may be surprised to learn that the tender lump in your breast is NOT the plug. It’s the milk backed up behind the plug. If you have a plugged duct, don’t massage BEHIND the plug.
Instead, massage in FRONT of the lump of milk and towards the nipple, as if trying to clear a pathway. Imagine if there was a traffic jam and you could magically clear the cars away: Would you start pushing forward at the end of the line (and risk causing more of a blockage) or start at the beginning of the line and work your way back?
Begin by kneading close to the nipple, pushing towards it. Then change the starting point so that you knead a little further back, moving closer to the lump of milk but always pushing towards the nipple. Press your other hand on the opposite side of your breast as counter-pressure. Optional: Apply a small amount of edible oil to your hands before massaging to reduce friction.
Massaging in front of the plug is less painful and more effective than using the lump of milk behind it as a battering ram against a long stringy dried plug. Keep working it little by little because it took awhile to get there and it will take awhile to clear.
FUN FACT: Have a milk bleb? A bleb represents an actual blocked duct, similar to the tip of white Elmer’s glue that has solidified with exposure to air.
Credit: Dr. Smillie, “From the Perils of Block Feeding to the Magic of Milkshakes”