Dangle pumping, is it the answer to your plugged ducts?
by Ashton Fortin Higgins, PhD, MEd, CLC, ACS
Here's the thing. Dangle pumping not out there in the evidence based world yet. This is another anecdotal strategy exclusive pumpers have to align with similar principles are nursing parents to mimic dangle nursing / dangle feeding. Does it work? I can confirm there are reports of it working among exclusive pumping parents, but it is not backed it up with research.
As the founder of the Exclusive Pumping Institute, here's what I can provide you. The evidence based research that is focused on dangle nursing / dangle feeding. Before I get to the research lets talk about what this looks like.
How does dangle pumping work?
Consider performing a plugged duct massage just before the session. Feel the borders of the plugged duct. Use the pads of your index and middle finger to move in a circular motion starting from the area closest to the nipple, working your way out from the nipple.
You will then set up for a pump session like any other, getting hooked up. Bear in mind, this position will ask more of your pump bra and a supportive pump bra is recommended.
You will also need to consider a position and location that will be right for you to perform dangle pumping. You might
consider simply leaning forward, but this may cause some back soreness, depending on the length of time you are pumping. You may also consider getting in a yoga like pose, where you are on all fours. The aim of dangle pumping is that you let gravity help you out. Using pillows to support you during these dangle pump session may be beneficial.
Once you've started your session, you may feel a bit awkward for a 15-30 min session just dangling away.
You can always incorporate baby here and station yourself either above baby, or having baby in eye's view. This way you can ensure you are able to occupy them and have gravity help you out while you pump.
Here's what we know about evidence based dangle feeding. It's generally mentioned as method that works in combination with other strategies for clearing the duct. This includes heat compress, lecithin, ensuring the correct breast flange size, more frequent milk removal during this time, less constrictive bras, breast massage, and hand expression post pump session (1). All of these suggestions are good suggestions to try to help clear a plugged duct.
It's equally important to watch out for signs of mastitis, such as fever, soreness and red areas of the breast. Pain management for the first day is generally ibuprofen (1), but if there is no decrease or improvement within 48 hours, it's important that you seek medical treatment.
Does dangle pumping increase milk production?
Maybe. There is something to say about the benefit of gravity. However, the data of dangle nursing is limited on it's own, we can't confirm this with certainty either.