Any breastfeeding mom who’s suffered from a plugged duct will tell you that they hurt like hell, and that the burning and tenderness you experience means you pretty much can’t tolerate anyone or anything coming into contact with your breast at all. (Except, of course, your sweet baby, because you pretty much have no choice there!)
Plugged ducts are literally just what they sound like: Milk gets backed up in your breast, most commonly when nursing or pumping sessions are skipped, or when something is putting undue pressure on your breast (like a tight shirt or bra) and the breast can’t properly empty. Whatever the cause, the solution is to get the milk flowing as quickly and completely as possible, so that the clogged milk can move out and you can finally experience some relief.
Common treatments for plugged ducts include more frequent nursing, trying different positions, hot/cold packs, massage, cabbage leaves, and even something called dangle nursing (where you dangle your breast in front on your baby, hoping that gravity will move the back-up milk out). Still, sometimes these methods fail, and the pesky clog sticks around whatever you do, leaving you feeling desperate — and in toe-curling pain.
Enter the LaVie Lactation Massager, which for all intents and purposes is basically a boob vibrator whose main purpose is to unclog plugged ducts. As the LaVie website describes it, the lactation massager “helps ease symptoms associated with engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis.” It applies gentle pressure and vibration to the breast, in turn helping to express the milk and “restore your flow.”
I have never personally tried the lactation massager, but as a mom who suffered from my fair share of plugged ducts, and as lactation consultant who worked with breastfeeding moms for seven years, I could totally see this working wonders.
When there have been times that a plugged duct doesn’t clear with the usual methods, I have recommended that moms try placing an electric toothbrush or vibrating phone directly on the clog to break up the milk that has gotten congealed inside. And I’ve seen good results, too — both with moms I’ve worked with, and myself.
But obviously, neither toothbrushes or phones are specifically designed to address plugged ducts or engorged breasts, so if you ask me, the lactation massager sounds like a pretty cool option. The LaVie website advertises the lactation massagers at $34.95 a pop, and guarantees that each massager is BPA-free, waterproof, and equipped with a rechargeable battery. Each massager also has more than one “vibration mode” (fancy, huh?), and can be transported discretely.
Do I think the lactation massager is a hands-down “must have” for all new moms? Again, I can’t say for sure, since I haven’t tried it myself. But if you’re an expectant mom who is prone to clogs, it might be something worth checking out. Especially if you’re currently in the midst of plugged-duct hell — because if so, then you’re probably well aware: they are no freaking joke. If untreated, they can lead to reductions in your milk supply, or mastitis, a full blown infection that includes fevers, chills, and that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics. In more rare cases, untreated plugged ducts can lead to abscesses, which need to aspirated or surgically drained.
The good news is, most mothers don’t deal with more than a few plugs during their time breastfeeding, and most are resolved pretty easily with no issue. But for those who have more serious issues with plugged ducts, it’s pretty awesome that there is yet another option out there for some much-needed relief. It’s about time!