I thought I’d dedicate a section to discussing blocked milk ducts because it is quite common among mommies with babies who are still learning to latch correctly (and hence not emptying the breasts) as well as mommies who express exclusively (as I did in the first month). Baby’s suckle is much stronger than the pump’s strength so sometimes you may get blocked milk ducts if expressing exclusively. I was one such mommy as I was exclusively expressing for Alicia in the first month and I didn’t even know I had blocked ducts then! It was a very painful experience but at least I learnt how to clear them on my own after the lactation consultant helped me to clear them.
First of all, how do you know if you’ve got blocked milk ducts?
I gathered this information from kellymom:
“Mom will usually notice a hard lump or wedge-shaped area of engorgement in the vicinity of the plug that may feel tender, hot, swollen or look reddened. Occasionally mom will only notice localized tenderness or pain, without an obvious lump or area of engorgement. The location of the plug may shift. A plugged duct will typically feel more painful before a feeding and less tender afterward, and the plugged area will usually feel less lumpy or smaller after nursing. Nursing on the affected side may be painful, particularly at letdown.”
My symptoms then fit the above description and I kept getting this sharp shooting pain that was a lot more painful than a normal letdown. So I called the lactation consultant and made an appointment with her.
Anyway, here’s how to clear blocked ducts (my own method):
- Place a warm towel on affected breast
- Massage breast gently in small circular motions, moving towards the nipple.
- Pump milk from the affected breast and while pumping, massage and press on the lump(s) (this will HURT!). Do this until the lump(s) become smaller and eventually disappear.
The affected breast will feel soft and no longer have lumps.
The process hurts but it is important to get the problem fixed. Nursing is supposed to be a wonderful experience, not a painful journey.
If after going through the massaging and pumping the milk ducts are still blocked, try getting your baby to suckle on the affected breast again. If that fails to clear the ducts as well, seek help from a lactation consultant.