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Thread: Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out?

  1. #1

    Default Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out?

    Hi there. I stopped nursing my 20 m.o. daughter two weeks ago, after a very gradual weaning process. There has been no engorgement or leaking, and I haven't tried to express any milk. However, I've noticed a couple of sore patches in my breasts, although they're still pretty soft -- the soreness only flares up if I put a lot of pressure on them, i.e. if my child rams them with her head/arm/feet/etc. But it is a distinct, localized pain, not just the pain anyone would feel after being hit in the chest.

    Do you think it's a good idea to express milk preemptively, or should I keep waiting & watching for signs of trouble? I did have mild mastitis a couple of times, but never took antibiotics to get rid of it, so I've been fearful that the infection will return. This doesn't feel or look like an infection, but I haven't found any information online about how the post-weaning process "normally" goes. (Although it sounds like it's really routine to express milk after you've weaned your child, sometimes for months, I've been hoping to avoid that -- I hated pumping, and I sentimentally want my last memory of breastfeeding to be of holding my child in my arms, not of periodic dates with a machine.) What should I expect? Are any aches and pains normal or tolerable?

    Thanks for your help...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    19,894

    Default Re: Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out

    I think you keep watching yourself for signs of mastitis, and break out the pump only if you see increased pain, fever, whole body aches and pains, red streaks/patches on the skin of the breast. What you're feeling are probably some full, maybe plugged ducts- but not every plugged duct turns into mastitis.

    It is normal to be able to express milk for weeks, months, even years after weaning. But that usually means that you can express a small amount of milk onto the skin of the nipple if you get curious and decide to see if you still have milk. It doesn't mean regular dates with a pump.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out

    Thanks! If I do have plugged ducts, though, will they "unplug" themselves over time, or do I have to express milk to relieve the pressure? I have never been able to get a clear answer to this question. While I was breastfeeding, it also seemed to take forever to clear a plugged duct with a pump -- long enough that I'm sure it would increase milk supply if I did it now. That's why I worry about a cycle of relief pumping.

    One more question. (So many questions!) Should I wear, or avoid, any particular type of bra during this time?

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out

    Bear in mind, I don't actually know the answer to your question for certain, but my thinking on it would be this... Unless it's painful or seems to be infected, I would not mess with the plugged ducts. The reason it's important to unplug ducts while you're actively nursing is because milk is constantly being made and trying to get through the ducts and the plugs cause it to get backed up, which leads to swelling, more pain, and increases likelihood for mastitis. Since you've weaned, there aren't quantities of milk moving through the breast. I would expect if you left it alone whatever is making up the plugs would eventually break down and disappear on its own. You might try massage and warm/cool compresses to help speed that process along, but I wouldn't try to 'clear' it in the typical sense of flushing it out with milk. And as mommal said, if you see any signs of infection or it starts to get painful all the time as opposed to when you get bumped I'd talk to your midwife or obstetrician about it.
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  5. #5
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out

    I think the milk should eventually be reabsorbed. So barring the appearance of mastitis symptoms, there should be no need for you to remove the milk with the pump.

    I would wear a comfortable bra- something without an underwire that won't put any pressure on you.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    70

    Default Re: Post-weaning: when to express milk, when to tough it out

    Ok, I just posted a similar question, and here I'm finding a lot of useful information. So I say thank you too! :-)

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