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Thread: Plugged duct

  1. #1

    Default Plugged duct

    I'm still nursing my 10 month old but have recently gone back to school full time. I tried pumping in the car during lunch, but it got too awkward trying to cover up with so many college students walking past my car! Lol. Long story short I haven't been emptying my breast as usual and got a plugged duct. I knew it was plugged because it was first terribly engorged. After feeding, I felt a large mass under the skin a little smaller than a golf ball. There was also a white dot on the nipple. I read about poking it with a pin and tried that. I cleaned the pin with alcohol and poked it. Some milk came out... But I'm still plugged up for the most part. After 3 days of this, still using the plugged breast to feed from other ducts, the skin began becoming red on the outside. MASTITIS! . The doctor says I must have introduced bacteria when poking it and that doing this is not recommended for this reason. Oops! It's painful and can be scary. I'm on an antibiotic now and I'm told to keep feeding despite the pain and apply warm compresses. It has been more than 1 week and still very slow flow from the duct. The mass is still there which is very scary for me. I guess it's just a waiting game now to see it my little baby can unplug it for me during feeding... Has this happened to anyone else? What was the end result?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,753

    Default Re: Plugged duct

    Hi. Plugs, blebs and mastitis are a fairly common breastfeeding issue. I have also had mastitis and I know how awful it can make you feel. I hope the antibiotics are working to ease the fever, aches and general awful exhausted feeling.
    The doctor says I must have introduced bacteria when poking it and that doing this is not recommended for this reason. Oops!
    It is possible that you introduced bacteria, but there is no 'must' about it. It sounds as if you were careful and this is a technique used by and suggested by lactation consultants for years for blebs. (Actually I think you want to gently lift the skin over the plug, more so than poke it, if that makes sense, and then work the plug out manually (and gently.))

    But don't blame yourself. It is entirely possible that the mastitis, like the plug, is due to poor/infrequent milk removal. I had plugs and mastitis twice, once when my baby was about 9 months and once when she was about 19 months, with no nipple injury at all, just busy days where my child did not nurse often enough, plus pressure from my seat belt as I drove around. No kidding.

    Frequent and effective milk removal is very vital for your own health, as well as for your milk production. I would suggest talking to your school to see if they can arrange for you to have access to a room in order to pump your milk. This is very important for your own health.

    Why are you scared of the mass? Do you think it is something other than a plug? Plugs can take time and effort to clear. Also there is something called a mastitis lump that can take a few weeks to clear. However, if you think this is something that is not breastfeeding related, you may want to talk to your doctor again.

    I am attaching a couple of articles on plugs and blebs as well as mastitis. Read the many suggestions for helping a plug get moving and try the ones that make sense to you. It is very good you are continuing to nurse and pump to remove milk frequently. Heat may help but is actually oftentimes counterproductive as it may increase inflammation. Cold packs, nursing upside down, and using vibration (such as an electric toothbrush) are some ideas you may not have heard before that I promise can work!

    http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...plugsblebs.pdf

    http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...atcanyoudo.pdf

    info on avoiding plugs and mastitis. http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/moth...rent-mastitis/

  3. #3

    Default Re: Plugged duct

    Thank you sooooo much for replying. I hadn't thought of trying an electronic toothbrush to massage the area. Yes, I was nervous because I read that these things should heal quickly (as in 24 hours or so). I feel better hearing that it can take longer. I did have some brown blood-like discharge from the same duct a few years ago and had to have a mammogram to check for cancer. The doctors said it was hormonal and should resolve itself, which it did once I got pregnant. Also, the mammogram came back negative but this lump all of a sudden just rattled me when I did not go away quickly. Im going to call my OB anyway just to be checked again, but your advice was great and I appreciate it. I'm 98% sure it's just a blocked duct. The white dot gives it away. And when I express the milk by hand, I'm not seeing much compared to the other side. When my little one has emptied the working ducts, his peaceful feeding turns into what feels like a midnight mauling...lol. I have to laugh because if not, I'll cry. He becomes so aggressive and eventually just goes for the other breast (babies are so smart! He knows the other breast has more milk for him!) I'm so glad to join LLL and to have the opportunity to talk to other moms who bf. I usually hear "you're still doing that?" since my little one is almost a yr old. I plan to continue despite this little bump in the road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Plugged duct

    Happy to help- Good idea to see ob. I went to my internist when I got that last plug- I think she could not believe someone could get a plug related mastitis when their baby was a year and a half, so wanted to see me before prescribing the abs. I 'knew' it was a plug but it was reassuring to have that confirmed by the doc.

    Good luck with getting that plug out-I hope the ideas in the articles help. the upside down nursing can help and at this age may well make baby laugh as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Plugged duct

    Not all plugged ducts are mastitis. Not all cases of mastitis come from a plugged duct. People make it sound like it's one and the same when they really aren't.

    I once had mastitis when my baby was 6 weeks old and my ob confirmed that it wasn't a plugged duct. She gave me antibiotics and after 10 days of that I started seeing results. It got better slowly, but once it was healed I was fine and it never came back.

    But I've still gotten LOADS of plugged ducts. Not these days, though, when I'm not nursing so much anymore.
    Mom to Samuel J.
    born 7lb. 10 oz. and 22" tall
    on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

    My breastfeeding experiences: http://www.breastfeedinghacks.com/

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Plugged duct

    I've had a couple of plugs and done the needle thing - lifting not poking and both times its taken 2-3 days to be completely ok. Neither time did I get mastitis tho the 2nd time my boob went red. I hope it gets sorted fast, plugs hurt

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Plugged duct

    Not all plugged ducts are mastitis. Not all cases of mastitis come from a plugged duct. People make it sound like it's one and the same when they really aren't.
    This is so true, and it causes lots of confusion. Mastitis the inflammation/infection will typically clear up in a matter of days with antibiotics (and sometimes abs are not even needed.) but plugs can last much longer. And of course both can happen entirely independently of each other (yet often will happen together.)

    Mastitis is not even limited to breastfeeding mothers, it can happen to anyone. (even men but it is rare.)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Plugged duct

    I have also had several plugged ducts due to baby's difficulty emptying breasts and infrequent pumping on busy days. I was recommended by my LC to take 1 lecithin capsule 3x a day and see how this helps. Since I statred this I have not had a plugged duct and don't worry if I can't pump every time or right away. Not sure this helps everyone but it has worked for me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Plugged duct

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*deklans.mom View Post
    I have also had several plugged ducts due to baby's difficulty emptying breasts and infrequent pumping on busy days. I was recommended by my LC to take 1 lecithin capsule 3x a day and see how this helps. Since I statred this I have not had a plugged duct and don't worry if I can't pump every time or right away. Not sure this helps everyone but it has worked for me.
    Lecithin helps lots of people, but not everyone. It did not work for me and I took the granules, which is supposed to be more potent than the capsules. The only thing that finally got rid of them for me was when my baby nursed less and lowered my output level.
    Mom to Samuel J.
    born 7lb. 10 oz. and 22" tall
    on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

    My breastfeeding experiences: http://www.breastfeedinghacks.com/

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