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Thread: Clogged Milk Duct??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    37

    Unhappy Clogged Milk Duct??

    Hello All,
    I wanted to know what can I do about a clogged milk duct. I noticed it on this past Friday and since then it has gotten bigger and hurts like crazy. Is there ANYTHING I can do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    1,198

    Default Re: Clogged Milk Duct??

    So sorry you are going through this. It's painful and certainly stressful. There are things you can do to help yourself, though. They mostly revolve around getting baby to breast as often as possible, lots of warm, moist heat and lots of massage to that breast. I wrote a big long post about blocks and blebs - and I'm going to repost it here. You can ignore the stuff that is specific to the 'white spot on the nipple', or bleb, but still do all the heating and massage stuff since that still applies. Good luck, and let us know how it's going!

    ___________
    I posted this a while ago - and, sorry, but it's kind of a complilation of several posts and PMs that I sent to people who were dealing with blebs/blocks. It's kind of long, but you may find some useful info in it. Feel free to PM me if you want if you have more questions. I went through months of recurring blebs....and had alot of visits to an IBCLC to deal with it, so am happy to share what I learned.

    good luck, here's the download!

    First post re: blebs/blocks:
    Oh...have been there several times! To echo previous posters - use warm moist compresses SEVERAL times per day. And you might want to keep doing this for several days after you feel no more discomfort, because these things actually take quite a bit longer to fully resolve than we think. (Learned all this from months of lactation consultant visits and lots of less-than-comfortable hands-on treatments to help move the plugs out. ouch!) Some questions for you...if you hand express/compress your breast to make milk come squirting out, do you see less points of spray than previously? (It's worth noting this kind of thing from time to time.) Do you see any localized small white spots on the very tips of your nipple where the milk usually flows? If so, this is called a bleb and it's part of a plug coming to the surface. Wash your hands thoroughly, scrub under your finger nails and once you have applied some lanolin and really warm/moist heated your breast, gently scrape (it sounds terrible, but it's not that bad, i promise) at the white spot to see if you can loosen it. Beware that you may get quite a flow of milk if you get something removed! Some women report that when they do this and clear bleb spots, they actually pull out small angel-hair-pasta like stringy solidified milk! I've never seen this myself, though. Anyway...just some thoughts. Lots of warm, moist heat (you can wet and microwave a disposo diaper for a quick and easy re-usable heatpad) and LOTS of massaging of the breast. Also, make sure your bra isn't too tight....ease off of any underwires if you are currently using them...at least for a while... (all advice I got....it all helped!)

    Here's more details.... I also 'cheated' a bit and picked at the bleb spots with a sharp tweezers. It's not really advisable to do this, however, since this is more invasive and any time you go invasive, you stand the risk of introducing bacteria to your body. That said... I found it necessary since I could get all the solids out with my fingernails! I very thoroughly disinfected the tweezers with rubbing alcohol and was CAREFUL CAREFUL CAREFUL to pick as gently as possible and to be minimally invasive! But I just had these recurring over and over for about two months on and off. Really, the heat and massage and getting baby on the breast as much as possible is important.

    Also.... *if* your plugs are related to the consistency of your milk (some milk is richer than others), the supplement lecithin can be very helpful. HOWEVER, it's important to know that lecithin is not appropriate for all situations and it can make things worse if milk consistency is not the problem. A good lactation consultant is needed to help figure this one out.

    Another post:

    The whole 'managing milk and breast care while working' thing REALLY soaks up alot of brain-space, doesn't it? I found that disposable diapers worked great as portable moist-heat pads at work. Wet them and microwave for 30-45 seconds -- and be sure that isn't TOO hot for your breasts! I found that laying one thin cloth, or even a papertowel when in a pinck - between the heated diaper and my skin was a help with moderating the heat. Another good thing about doing the heating is that heating will actually help SHOW you where you are building blockages with your milk flow. After you have the heat on your breast for a few minutes, remove it and LOOK at your breasts. If you see any dark red splotches that stand out from just the pinking-up from the warmth, you want to massage those areas in particular because it's 'lighting up' as an area where lots of cells are collecting. That's a sign of possible blockages starting. It's all very self-managable - but it requires some consistent attention and care! Please feel free to write back if you have questions, etc. I went through MONTHS of blebs and blockages and worked with really excellent lactation consultants to help get through it. It cost me alot of $ and time and was not comfortable - so I'm very happy to help share the knowledge with other moms in the same situations. Good luck to you!

    Another post:

    The advice that I got when I went through this was that the internal situation with possible blockages building goes on longer than we think and longer than we feel the discomfort - i.e., our bodies can put up with alot before we really know we're in trouble! If it were me going through this again, I'd do about 3-4 days of heating about 3 times per day (about 5-10 min each time, if you can) and make sure you massage/hand-express milk even after you pump, if you are pumping. Your hands get better clearing than the pump does; you can extract more from places that the pump doesn't reach. I found that it took nearly a month for the flat white spot go awak completely. I *thought* I was fine because it was flat and not blistery, but the lactation consultants I worked with kept showing me how much milk was still quietly building up... It's a delicate balance between letting the spot heal - which is good - and also making sure you keep clearing the bits through. When it's all clear, you WON'T have that white spot! It wasn't really advised because it can raise the chances of infection, but if you are really careful and sterilize (rubbing alcohol), you can use a sharp pair of tweezers to very gently and carefully pick at that white spot - if it hurts or bleeds, STOP!! I really got more of the bleb out this way; I had trouble getting it all with my fingernails. But I can't stress enough, clean the tweezers really well with alcohol and be very very gentle! Have you seen those red splotchy patches when you use the heat? That's also a sign that you aren't completely done with this...but it sure sounds like you are on the right track and that's great! So glad you are feeling better. This really can become quite painful - and left unchecked it can turn bad....

    Another post:

    ....I should also have mentioned that it's a good idea, if you can, to try to vary the position you use to nurse, especially if/when you are worrying about or trying hard to prevent plugs and blebs. It's actually really interesting... if you usually, say, feed in a cradle hold and then try to change it up some by keeping baby where he is (on the right breast, for example) and then rotate your body so that you are offering him the left breast...this way he's kind of drinking 'backwards' from how he usually is when on the left breast. You will likely notice, when you are done feeding that way, that your breast feels just a little different and maybe kind of relieved! I find this alot when I know I need to get some extra "clearance" of sorts. Again, it makes sense, but isn't something that would come to mind unless you are made to think about it. Different points of suction and all, in just slightly different positions will change how the milk is pulled and that can really help when you have spots that need some extra clean-out!
    __________________

    -linda

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    289

    Default Re: Clogged Milk Duct??

    I"ve dealt with plugged ducts repeatedly- in my last LO and also since my 3 week old was born. I always got one if I couldn't nurse or pump on my regular schedule. All the above info is great. One technique my lactation nurse showed me this time ( I had plugged ducts less than a week after he was born!) was to press with my fingers in a walking motion towards my nipple while the baby nursed. This really helped the pain clear up quickly. Also- from past experience- the clogged area should feel softer after nursing/pumping- although it may still be painful. If it's not softer than when you started- you need to pump until it gets softer. You may notice redness after applying the heat or after the massage- but if you notice redness before putting heat, esp if it's accompanied by body aches and/or fever you may be progressing towards mastitis. If that's the case then call your MD ASAP.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    869

    Default Re: Clogged Milk Duct??

    I got a bleb on Thursday. How do I know if I have mastitis? This is probably the 7th or 8th time for plugged ducts. It hurts more and it feels like I have a huge sore spot on the bottom half of my right breast.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    1,198

    Default Re: Clogged Milk Duct??

    Are you having any flu-like symptoms? Any fever? Those are two big red flags re: mastitis, I believe. If you have any of that, call your doc..... Have you dealt with blebs before? All the stuff I posted above really does help, just fyi....it takes time, though.
    hope you feel better asap!!
    -linda

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: Clogged Milk Duct??

    Thank You Soo Much JSMom

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    1,198

    Default Re: Clogged Milk Duct??

    Please feel free to PM me if you need to ask questions or whatever. Sometimes I'm not able to read all the threads (like when I should be working...sigh), but I always respond to private messages as soon as I can!! hang in there....this too shall pass... but you need to stay on top of it and take good care of YOU!!
    -linda

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