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Plumbing Issues


Blocked milk ducts are one of the most painful things I have ever experienced, and that is coming from someone who recently went through child birth drug-free. What’s worse is they can come on quickly.

The worst blocked duct I had occurred when my son was about 6 weeks old. (Side note, much of the literature available online about blocked – or plugged – milk ducts claims that they are a symptom likely to be experienced in the first week or two as your milk is coming in. I had issues until my son was over two months old.)

One night I ended up sleeping on my stomach and within six hours, my breast went from happy and soft to the size and firmness of a grapefruit. I tried all of the recommended remedies (hot compress, ice packs, massage, nursing, ibuprofen), but nothing was working. Luckily we live just a couple of blocks from the hospital so I was able to have an emergency visit with a lactation consultant. She “massaged” the affected breast which meant she tenderized it for slaughter for nearly an hour with my son latched. Just as she was about to give up, a little white speck appeared on the nipple. This bright white dot was smaller than a grain of sand and was the cause of my problems. I instinctively reached down and scratched it which removed the block and caused milk to literally start squirting across the room, hitting my husband who was seated at what should have been a safe distance! I started laughing so hard I cried as we hurriedly latched my son who was famished due to all that blocked milk. He gained 3 ounces in three minutes and I gained immense relief both physically and emotionally.

I had a number of blocked ducts during the first two months, but I was able to prevent them from getting to the point described above by:

– massaging the milk towards the nipple while I was breastfeeding (I still do this to keep things moving),
– taking ibuprofen to reduce inflammation,
– using ice packs for the pain when needed,
– expressing milk in a hot shower when I felted a blocked duct, and
– pumping completely empty at least once a day while massaging (my lactation consultant said to do this while my husband feed our son with a bottle. I had been skipping that feeding and sleeping, but she told me I needed to get up and pump).

I would also like to share an excellent breastfeeding resource which was recommended by my lactation consultant. Check out kellymom for tons of breastfeeding information.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. kate C. permalink
    01/19/2012 12:19

    ouch! I didn’t realize it until your description of sleeping on your stomach, but that happened to me too a few weeks ago after I slept wrong. It went away though, after massage etc for a few days, and I never really thought to term it “a blocked duct”. I think that was my only one, though, and it only really affected half my breast.

    I do want to add, for your non-mother readers’ benefit (there’s at least one! 🙂 that breastfeeding isn’t always challenging. It can be, certainly, and if it is, remember it’s a two person thing – the baby has a lot to do with it, too. But you also could get lucky and have the baby latch on immediately, no problems, and never have an issue with it. I was lucky enough to have that experience. I took a breastfeeding class too, and am glad I had that knowledge, which I’m sure helped me figure it out, but my kids were really good at eating, right from the start.

    So, it could be easy and natural or it could be challenging, so don’t get too worked up and worried that it’s going to be awful and hard, when it might not be, you’ll just have to wait and see when the baby arrives! 🙂

    • 01/19/2012 12:32

      It would typically just be a part of your breast so you are probably right. Glad you got it to go away without much ado!

  2. Christy permalink
    01/24/2012 13:29

    Hello, it’s me- the non-mother reader. 🙂 Though I have many friends who have breastfed, or at least tried it- the post above was still a little shocking. I appreciate the honesty & candid nature of the information- it certainly seems to be a process that requires patience, time & sacrifice. That said, I was grateful for Kate’s comment, because after reading the post, I found myself feeling a little horrified & really nervous at the mere thought of one day trying it myself. I’m wondering if Kate could be featured as a guest columnist, and share a bit about her experience, since it does sound as if her’s was a little different than Meg’s. You could also make a little mini-series out of this topic- including a post on the advantages/disadvantages to baby, pumping, etc. My theory on asking questions as the non-mother reader is that one day (hopefully!) when I experience all of this myself- I’ll have a wide range of info from people who have “been there, done that” and use that to figure out what works best for me…. or should I say, us!

    • 01/24/2012 13:44

      I would love to have Kate as a guest columnist when she has some time. 😉

  3. kate C. permalink
    01/24/2012 15:29

    ok, ok! I’ll write. (though the blog owner is probably wondering why I don’t just get my own dang blog! 😉 I do have one… but it’s just for cute pictures of my girls!

    What do you want to hear? It will be a good way to procrastinate getting ready for classes starting on Monday. And I still owe you a few birth stories too, MM… hopefully this week or weekend!

    • 01/24/2012 16:14

      I have a few topics in mind: your birth stories and how they differed for different children, what it is like to be pregnant and have a newborn with other kids running around, being a working mom and loving your job, pretty much anything else you want to share!

      • kate C. permalink
        01/24/2012 16:38

        Wow! I guess that could keep me busy for a while! 🙂 Ok, I’ll work on a post on something in the next week and email it to you.

      • 01/24/2012 19:55

        Be careful what you offer, I am excellent at delegation! Also send me what you want in terms of an introduction. 🙂


  1. Why I Love Breastfeeding « An Engineer's Approach to Pregnancy & Parenting

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