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blocked ducts again - anyone else get this constantly?

(11 Posts)
nomoresleep Sun 20-Sep-09 18:57:10

Just need a bit of a vent....

DS is 5.5 months and I've had blocked ducts at least once a fortnight since he was born. I think it's an oversupply issue, and I get them mainly on the boob I feed from mostly at night (we co-sleep).

The last few times I went on to develop full-blown mastitis.

Anyway, so I have another blocked duct, DS hasn't cleared it whilst feeding to sleep just now and it's agony and I'm fed up.

Does anyone else get this all the blimmin time?

I didn't have a single blocked duct with DD and I fed her till she was 2. At this rate I'll have given up long before that with DS....

Mummy369 Sun 20-Sep-09 20:03:37

Seeing that it happens a lot at night, I think the baby is messing around a bit - ie overstimulating the breast by feeding for short bursts but never really emptying the breast - hence the oversupply issue.

Try a warm shower and gently massage the affected breast for about 10 minutes. You also need to hand-express (sqeeze) the excess milk out and 'knead' the lumps in the breast alternately to relieve the pressure. Offer the other breast at the next feed but massage and hand-express the affected one too. Next time you offer DS this breast, massage and knead the lumps whilst he is feeding.

ILikeToQuickstepItTangoIt Sun 20-Sep-09 20:14:16

I take it you feed laying down, and do you lay on that side for the majority of the night? If so, maybe the pressure on your boob is causing the blockage?

Do you wear a bra in bed?

nomoresleep Sun 20-Sep-09 20:47:02

Hi - thanks for the replies. I agree with you that DS is feeding for short bursts but not really emptying the breast - he comfort feeds a lot at night to get himself back to sleep - so I guess that's the key cause then.

Yes, I do feed lying down and lie on the same side for the majority of the night. I guess I don't like turning my back on DS, and in any case he's often lying with his head on my arm so it makes turning over tricky. I do wear a bra but leave the cup bits unstrapped most of the night, usually because I nod off to sleep as DS falls off the boob and I don't bother hooking everything back up again. I have pretty small boobs (well, they were small before breastfeeding!! now wearing a 30C/D size bra) so haven't really concerned myself about keeping them supported all night long, but perhaps that's a mistake.

It sounds like I need to think more carefully about how I'm feeding at night then.

As for getting rid of the blockage, I've never had much success with massage unfortunately. I will try again tonight though!!

You would really think that breastfeeding should be easier than this though.

Mummy369 Sun 20-Sep-09 21:01:07

The key to success with massage is to alternate with the hand-expressing - the massage by itself will loosen the blockage but not relieve it, so it's important to massage whilst breastfeeding or use the hand-expressing technique to relieve the pressure.

To find the best place to squeeze the breast, 'walk' 2 fingers back from the nipple, applying a little pressure, until you feel a hard ridge 1-2cm back from the nipple deep in the breast tissue. It can often be found on the 'border' of the areola (the dark area of skin) but this will depend on the size of your areola. Place the tip of your thumb at '12 o'clock' and the tip of your first finger at '6 o'clock'. Gently push in to the breast then *squeeze together* then release. You will need to do this a few times before you start to see any milk come out. Then alternate between the massage and squeezing for maybe 2-3 mins each, for about 10-15 minutes in total.

Montifer Sun 20-Sep-09 21:10:18

You have my sympathy, I had quite a few blocked ducts in the 1st 9 months or so of bf and it can be excruciating.
I think it often happened when I had spent some time sleeping on my front or in one position for a long time, although we didn't co-sleep, (had a bedside crib) so am not sure how you could vary your position through the night to avoid this if you think it's contributing.

I found ibuprofen useful in resolving the blockages / inflammation, was never sure if massage made it better or worse.
Also found the info on Kellymom helpful.

nomoresleep Sun 20-Sep-09 21:18:39

Thanks Mummy369 - that's a really helpful explanation of hand expressing. In fact, it's way better than the pictures in most books on breastfeeding that I've read. I don't think I've been very disciplined with my massaging techniques!! I will try your advice tonight/tomorrow.

Montifer, it is really excruciating isn't it? I will need to think about varying my position, but it's not going to be straightforward. I will take some ibuprofen instead of paracetamol and see if that helps. Even if it doesn't, I'll be less grumpy once I can't feel the pain!

The only thing I've ever found to be successful is trying to get a milk blister to develop, then scratching the end away, but I don't always seem to get a milk blister. Feeding on all fours has also worked in the past (and provided much entertainment for DH who witnessed it!!) but again isn't reliable....

Mummy369 Sun 20-Sep-09 21:27:23

Hope it works! Usually I am in front of a Mum and use a bit of demonstration to show her what to do. Before I became a BF advisor I was completely useless at the massage myself. It's definitely the hand-expressing which does the trick.

I like the idea of going on all fours! How does the baby manage to latch on?! I suspect it's the alternate position which is helpful. If the blocked ducts are near the cleavage, BF the baby laying on the side which is affected. If the blockage is on the 'outside' of the breast (nr armpit) stay on the 'wrong' side to feed and lean over further towards baby to open up the ducts on the affected side. You would need to lay baby on the bed rather than hold in the crook of your arm.

nomoresleep Mon 21-Sep-09 07:22:49

I've just cleared it. Mummy369, your hand expressing/massage technique is very good - I've never been able to get any milk out with hand expressing before. Luckily, I could also see a milk blister this morning so punctured it with a needle before massaging and expressing, and it's done the trick.

The ibuprofen was a good tip too - the pain relief was better than with just paracetamol.

Feeding on all fours is basically just an alternate position, as you say, but you get the added bonus of gravity! You put baby on the bed on their back and then approach on all fours till your boob is hanging down above their mouth (at which point baby is swiping at you mouth open like your boob is a bunch of grapes) then crouch down till baby can get boob in mouth. Totally undignified but it's the only position that has ever cleared a blockage for me.

Thanks again all.

Mummy369 Thu 24-Sep-09 01:03:59

Hi nomoresleep - really pleased you were able to use the technique and that you feel better. If you start to get symptoms again then just massage and hand-express before you latch the baby on, or immediately after if baby doesn't clear the blocked ducts. Don't forget you can also massage whilst baby is feeding.. smile

verylittlecarrot Thu 24-Sep-09 01:18:55

Nomoresleep - re your milk blister, if you get anoter blocked duct, check the end of your nipple for a tiny white 'plug', (no bigger than a grain of sand) rather than a larger blister, and you will need good lighting and eyesight for this, and may need to gently squeeze your nipple for it to show itself. Very little is written about blocked nipple pores compared to milk blisters, but this was invariably the cause of my numerous blocked ducts.

For me, massage and firm squeezing at the base of the nipple would eventually result in it 'pinging' out like a cork from a bottle, with accompanying release of all the backed up milk.

Worth checking carefully next time. I suspect these are more common causes of blockages than people realise.

I also found expressing by machine had a very srong link to me getting blocked ducts.

BTW, my blocked ducts pretty much stopped happening after I introduced solids at 6m, despite continuing bf till, well 2 years and counting.

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