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Recurrent painful blocked ducts - did you get through this?

(34 Posts)
MouseInTheSkirting Fri 06-Feb-15 18:12:16

I'm really struggling to stay on top of this. I'm bfing my three week old and I keep getting blocked ducts which result in hard, gold ball sized, incredibly painful lumps - so painful I can't hold my baby close, I can't massage the lumps, I can't lift my arms up etc. every time one lump subsides another one comes. I'm on my second lot of antibiotics.

I do everything I'm supposed to - except the massage. Different positions, heat, feeding frequently etc, I really want to hear from women who've experienced this and overcome it. I really need to know that this can clear up and I can feed happily one day. I dont want to give up but this pain is really getting me down.

Patilla Fri 06-Feb-15 18:17:47

I did with DS but I've no idea what stopped them, they just didn't come back one day.

I'm sorry that isn't as helpful as it might be.

I did play around with feeding positions to make sure that I was draining each side properly but I suspect that my supply and his feeding just settled down and worked out.

You have my sympathies by the way. Tricky stuff.

By the way, never had an issue at at with DD who came along a few years later. So don't let it stop you feeding another child. Hope it resolves soon for you

MouseInTheSkirting Fri 06-Feb-15 18:40:08

Thank you for your reply. It's reassuring that someone has come out the other side. Can I ask - how do you know one side is drained?

SirVixofVixHall Fri 06-Feb-15 19:13:45

Hopefully these will resolve as your milk supply becomes established. Are the lumps on one side only? Do you wear a sling? How is your bra? I had blocked ducts from one style of bra that slightly flattened my breasts, and also from a sling that pressed on a certain point when carrying my dd. I can still remember the utter bliss of feeling a lump resolve when dd was having a lengthy feed! I fed for 8 years solid (not one baby!) so the blocked ducts weren't a big problem. The other thing that triggered them was sleeping with pressure on a breast, and getting overtired and exhausted from doing too much didn't help either.
So my tips are 1. Check your bra. It should have cups that are not too snug, to allow for the breast to inflate easily. That will mean that it is a bit baggy when they are post feed.
2. Check that nothing else puts pressure on your breast or breasts, eg. slings, pillows when you sleep etc.
3. feed on demand, and allow your baby to keep feeding from one breast for as long as possible.
4. get as much rest as you can.

fruitpastille Fri 06-Feb-15 19:29:49

Other things to try, ibuprofen, wide tooth comb to massage, also read about the food supplement lecithin helping (mentioned on kellymom site). I got mastitis once every few weeks till 6 months I'm afraid.

stargirl1701 Fri 06-Feb-15 19:41:06

I used soya lecithin to combat recurrent blocked ducts in my left breast. I turned out to be allergic to it so switched to sunflower lecithin -both worked.

TiredandGrumpy2014 Fri 06-Feb-15 19:45:34

You have my sympathy- I had a similar problem so totally appreciate how much pain you're probably in- and I cried and moaned a lot about it, I think my dp got fed up of hearing about my boobs!

It did get better although slower than everyone expected. At about 10 weeks I got totally fed up and after a tearful meeting with my lovely hv I decided to stop. But giving up feeds just made it worse! So I carried on and gradually things got better.

It was a slow process but I realised I was getting the blocked ducts less often and starting to enjoy feeding- especially as at about 3 months dd settled into a really nice 3 hourly feed routine in the day with a couple of longer periods over night.

I ended up feeding til 13 months and whilst I did still get blocked ducts I got loads better at treating them.

I found massage was the most effective treatment- especially in the bath or shower with a warm and soapy flannel. Also if you're around the house stick an ice block down your top between feeds -I think it reduces swelling a bit-and then a warm massage just before to get the milk flowing.

Plus ibuprofen (and wine!)

Hope things improve for you soon- there is hope! X

MouseInTheSkirting Fri 06-Feb-15 19:53:29

Oh ladies, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I cried when I read about your relief when feeding and a lump cleared!!

I think you're right about the bra. I've been wearing a soft crop top but I think it squashes me down so I'm swinging free now!

My carrier is an ergo and squashes me a bit on both sides and im not sure what to do about that. I'm getting lumps both sides.

I can't tell you what it means to me to have you share your experiences. Everything id read so far was by women who'd given up on Breast feeding.

Cliffdiver Fri 06-Feb-15 20:13:06

I also had mastitis every month until DD2 started solids at 5.5months.

I found massaging the lump with an electric toothbrush really helped disperse it. I would also position DD so her chin was on the lump and massaging it.

I think some doctors recommend a long term low dose antibiotic for reoccurring mastitis.

Do you have a breastfeeding peer supporter locally? It may be worth popping in and getting her to check your latch / positioning.

MouseInTheSkirting Fri 06-Feb-15 20:39:05

Thanks cliff diver. I am going to go to the bf support group on Monday to check my latch again. I don't have an electric toothbrush. (Would a vibrator do the same thing?...)

SirVixofVixHall Fri 06-Feb-15 20:50:29

Honestly it is resolvable. I remember sobbing with the pain every single feed in the first weeks as I had thrush in my ducts and it was agonising. Then I got a blocked duct from the bra. It all seemed neverending. But i did eight solid years, most of my 40s. I am 51 now and I only stopped breastfeeding two years ago.
If you want a bra, then get a bra with cups, rather than a crop top, and get the cups fitted when you are really engorged (slap some pads on so that you don't leak all over it! ) And then it will still give some support when everything deflates but without crushing. If it is snug to your deflated breasts it is too small. Try a ring sling, or a soft wrap one, and try not to have it on for long, get to places where you can sit with the baby on you but without pressure. I would get a block within a day or two of either wearing the sling too much or the tight bra, and once I worked out what it was I went for years without a block, until I took to sleeping with a pillow against my breasts and that caused one again. I would feed and feed through the day, try everything in the book from showering the area to hot flannels, and then finally last thing at night she would have a really long feed a day or two in and the block would shift, with this strange tugging sensation, and then it would be gone. Good luck!

PopGoesTheWeeble Fri 06-Feb-15 20:54:37

I currently have awful mastitis, and have been in agony and regularly in tears trying massage/shift the blockage. So excited to go try the electric toothbrush tip now though!!

Snuffleump Fri 06-Feb-15 21:13:13

Hi Mouse, I had recurrent blocked ducts, they really are hell aren't they? I found massage and a little expressing under the water in a hot bath helped and wore heat pads on the affected area whenever one popped up. I used to sometimes get gritty bits out, like squeezing a spot, grim but satisfying.
Are there any other feeding issues? Is your little one having 6 wet nappies a day? And mustard yellow poos? Gaining weight steadily?

My dd had slow/static weight gain, green poos and my nipple looked a bit pinched, like a lipstick after feeds. I was referred to the infant feeding team by my health visitor and posterior tongue tie was diagnosed. The blocked ducts cleared up once that was severed and we were back on track.

I'm not suggesting that tongue tie is the only cause for blocked ducts but that was my experience. I found bfing so so tough in the first 2-3 months which felt like an age but now my dd is 10 months, we're still going and I'm so pleased that I stuck with it.

SoonMeansNever Fri 06-Feb-15 21:36:14

I had recurrent blocked ducts til DS1 was 9mo, a couple a week, I got the knotty balls in the side-boob area and eventually a tiny hard little grain of milk solids would get stuck in the tip of my nipple. I'd feed as much as possible, massaging the lump down in the shower, even tried combing the skin (wide-toothed comb with gentle pressure towards nipple). DS1 wasn't able to clear these by feeding, I'm afraid I was one of those who regularly had to use a needle to clear the blockage. Sounds grim, but the relief was sooo worth it.
Mine were caused by having any pressure whatsoever on my boobs, bra fitting badly, sleeping on my side, bumping myself, anything really.
I stopped wearing all bras but these soft ones, and made sure I turned over regularly at night, and massaged the lumps down and expressed the lumps out as soon as I suspected another blockage. I got very good at spotting them.
Eventually they got less frequent, all pain stopped, and I happily BFed until DS1s 2nd birthday. smile

BFing 9mo DS2 now and have only had a handful of blockages, the worst lasting 3 days, all eventually cleared by feeding (DS2 has a better latch than his brother had).

If you're wearing bad nursing bras, get thee to a Bravissimo for a proper fitting, and check out Hotmilk nursing bras, I've got four now, they're so superior to the M&S ones I had with DS1 they're like a different species.

Re how you tell when a side is 'drained' fully, it will feel soft and squishy compared to the full side. If I'm not sure it's drained I do a little breast compression to check its finished let-down.

Hope you get some relief soon!

mrsmugoo Fri 06-Feb-15 21:47:59

I had them for months. For relief, hot baths and loads of ibuprofen. For prevention I had to stop wearing bras and switched to Mothercare crossover sleep bras which are basically just stretchy crop tops as literally any seam would give me a blocked duct.

I'm still wearing them now and I stopped feeding a month ago!

MouseInTheSkirting Fri 06-Feb-15 22:57:15

I haven't ever massaging anything out. Youch. That sounds excruciating. You used a needle? Do you mean you went to hospital for a procedure or YOU did something medieval with a needle?! I'm a bit scared!

I think I just cleared one lump by massaging while she was feeding.

Her poos are sometimes green but I was told this was because I'm on antibiotics. She is gaining weight well and she's regularly making wet and pooey nappies.

How you ladies carried on through months of this - you're amazing.

SirVixofVixHall Fri 06-Feb-15 23:15:57

I got through the worst of it by thinking "I will just do this one feed". I could cope by taking it one at a time. Then one day I realised it had been gradually getting less painful, and over time it became so easy that I barely thought about it, it was just something I did effortlessly, like brushing my teeth. It helped that I had an incentive- was a very prem baby in the 60s, not breastfed at all (taken to a different hospital from my mother), and I have lots of allergies and probable coeliac disease. I do feel that having formula so early probably wasn't great with a family history of allergies etc. So I was very keen to feed my babies for a decent length of time.

McBaby Sat 07-Feb-15 00:31:14

I would see a lactation consultation or other professional. DO you seem of have lots of milk it could be over supply? So when she feeds less on one one the lumps could form. The green poo could also be an indication of this. As to much foremilk which contains more lactose can lead to green poo. Do you spray milk of she pulls off? Do you feel engorges a lot? Does she feed from one or both sides?

I had massive over supply with blocked ducts and over the first 2-3 months it was pretty much under control. I just had to be careful about how often I fed and from which side. We had to do a lot of block feeding and still at 9 months I have to be carful when we drop feeds etc

Patilla Sat 07-Feb-15 20:31:02

I agree with the one feed at a time philosophy.

I had completely forgotten about the massaging the breast while they feed until you mentioned it but now I remember I did that loads.

I read that light movements towards the nipple with a wide tooth comb helped drain it (you don't want too much pressure) but I wasn't a superior enough contortionist to do that. I did however use my fingernails in a similar motion while DS fed.

SoonMeansNever Sun 08-Feb-15 01:01:32

Mouse Mediaeval I'm afraid... I did it on advice from the lactation consultant, sterilised the needle in a flame, then expressed the gritty lump to the nipple tip and 'flicked' dug it out with the needle. Not something I'd recommend anyone else try unless on official advice, and very glad I haven't had the same problems this time.
Incidentally, I have/had very weak letdown, barely leak, never sprayed etc. The HV said I have very retentive nipple sphincters! grin

Haggisfish Sun 08-Feb-15 01:32:30

I massaged while feeding and fed while in the bath-the warm water softened the blockage and relaxed dd. also ibuprofen gel directly on boob was much more effective than pills.

squizita Sun 08-Feb-15 10:30:18

I am another who does/did the hot water and digging out. Gross but effective. A hot water bottle applied 15 min before a feed helps.
Actually after a hot shower/hot water bottle sometimes I'm feeding and feel a sharp sensation - dd has sucked one free! shock
I also squeeze mild ones out like spots (gross).

They are a hundred times better than they used to be.

squizita Sun 08-Feb-15 10:33:20

...oh I always massage the boob before a feed hence they are at the surface and I can remove them - I do this all the time as convinced it's what prevents the pain returning. I look like Les Dawsons granny character pushing at me boob.

Haggisfish Sun 08-Feb-15 10:39:06

Ooooh yes that sharp sensation-I remember it well!

Snuffleump Sun 08-Feb-15 19:32:20

How are you mouse?

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