Clogged duct, what do I do?

Melissa - posted on 09/16/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I have a milk duct that is above my nipple and so never got used. Eventually is stopped producing milk. However, the last couple of nights I haven't been able to feed my baby (he's one now) on time so breast have gotten really full. I noticed some tenderness and swelling where that errant duct is and while I was showering I tried to express it and milk came out, then a large chunk of white, then some blood and puss. I'm concerned because a couple days have passed and it is still very sore, although the lump is now pea sized, and the blood and puss was disconcerting. Has this happened to anyone else with a clogged duct (if that is even what it was)?

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Vicki - posted on 09/17/2010

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I've had blocked ducts a few times. After my worst one I contacted a brilliant lactation consultant who recommended this method and it has always helped my milk get moving again...
Just before nursing...
Fill a mixing bowl with quite hot water from the tap (as hot as you can stand it).
Drop in a handful of Epsom Salts and give it a mix with your hand.
Topless, lean over the bowl and lower your affected breast into the hot bowl of water for 6-7 minutes.
Pull it out, give it a good wobble with your hand.
Then sit down and nurse your hungry child.
If ever both breasts are in a bad way do the worst one last so it's the warmest. Ideal situation would be to prepare one, nurse off that one, prepare the next, feed off the next.
You may repeat this process every nursing time until the problem clears. Sometimes once will do the trick sometimes it needs a bit more. I find it very effective, moreso than a shower. I also find it helpful if my husband or mother is around to hold the hungry infant whilst I disappear for 10 minutes to do the procedure! I hope this helps. It has kept many an infection at bay and resolved one really bad one. Yay for great lactation consultants!
And yay for a supportive husband. My other bit of advice is if you tire of massaging your own breast have your husband massage it. My husband sat in on a session with a lactation consultant and has been ever so helpful when I have a newborn and am too tired to take care of my breasts.

Cybele Garcia - posted on 09/23/2010

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I think everyone has had GREAT suggestions! One small tip; when massaging your breast (now or any time) DO NOT use your fingertips, but the palm of your hand, or heel of your hand. Fingertips may further injure delicate breast tissue. When I first started breastfeeding I massaged with a hot compress or cold compress (whichever felt better, alternating sometimes). Hope you get better soon!

Jessica - posted on 09/23/2010

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Sounds painful! I can honestly say that I never got Mastitis. I was close to it - hard lump in my breast that felt extremely hot. My clever hubby suggested using our vibrating back massager on my breast while I was feeding my daughter. It was more gentle than massaging the lump by hand (which can cause bruising) and within 24hours had completely dissappeared. Good Luck!

Cassie - posted on 09/21/2010

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My m/d told me to massage the breast when you baby is feeding, and to massage it when your in a bath or shower and put heat on it, like a hot water bottle, hope it goes quick mine went within a day x

[deleted account]

I have had a blockage which turned into mastitis. Remeber to try slowing down, nursing frequently, heat breast by shower, hot pack, (I use to use a clean diaper filled with hot water wrapped around my breast before nursing) my lactation consultant said to start with the breast with a blockage so the baby is hungry while nursing and has a strong pull to dislodge any remaining grossness. hopefully that was the end of your blockage and nursing goes as normal.

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Morgan - posted on 10/05/2010

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I was told, with the clogged duct....like the others stated keep nursing on that side, use warm compresses and the top of your baby's mouth is where the strongest sucking is...if his/her nose is pointing to the area where the clogged duct is it will help unclog it quicker. Make sure to keep an eye on it. If it become red and tender to the touch go see your doctor...they can lead to mastitis. I just saw the last part to your post, that sounds very painful and I would go see my doctor...the girls are right you don't want it getting any worse. Best of luck to you.

[deleted account]

Be really careful if you choose to use cabbage as it will dry up your milk if left on for too long. It's very helpful for getting rid of clogged ducts though! Just be sure to ONLY apply it to the spot that has the clog. Tear off a small piece of a leaf to do this. The salt water thing and this combo might be just what you need. But just be safe I'd call your child's pediatrician, they've usually got breast feeding consultants and other wonderful ideas to help you out. Be sure if you are put on an antibiotic you get yourself a good probiotic for after. And try nursing your baby so that their chin is pointing and the clogged duct. Hope you get to feeling better soon I know how horrible that feels!

Jodi - posted on 09/23/2010

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Puss and blood does not sound good - I hope you saw your GP - in severe cases they give you antibiotics.

I'm sure you have sorted this by now... but these things have worked for me (before the puss stage),

- A cold cabbage leaf in the bra helps (lord knows how/why)

- Gently massage the spot while bub feeds, getting them to suck it out is the best

- Try a warm (not hot) wheat bag while feeding or anytime

- Gently massage in a warm (not hot) shower...

Good luck!

Stephanie - posted on 09/22/2010

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i wud see a Dr, i had mastitis treated with 4 lots of antibiotics, n mine turned into a breast abcess, for which i had to have emergency surgery.very rare but it can happen, 4 1/2 months on im still not rite! with the blood n pus it sounds like there is some kind of underlying infection. hope it doesnt get worse for u x

Cinda - posted on 09/22/2010

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Sorry to hear that. I know how painful it can be. I'm hoping that 6 days later it's cleared up. If not..... I was told warm/hot compresses and/or showers can help. It didn't for me but the heat helped relieve some of the pain for SURE. For me, it was getting my baby to nurse as much as possible to 'suck out the clog'. It SOUNDS a little gross, perhaps, but that's what the lactation specialists & pediatrician told me. It's perfectly fine for the baby. If you're SORE, try using a nipple shield to still be able to nurse w/ less pain while your nipple heals. I've used them & they're GREAT! Messaging your breast while nursing can also help get things moving. Although I never tried it, I was also told to use wet tea bags on the nipples.
GOOD LUCK!!

[deleted account]

Get a disposable diaper, fill it with hot water and then lay the open diaper over your breast where it hurts. It's amazing how long it holds heat. The heat is really going to help. If you have a jacuzzui or bath tub you could soak in I'd do that too, and drink a LOT of water! The more the better. Soaking and drinking water really helped me when I had a plugged duct a few times. I never had any blood or puss though, I would call your dr. about that one for fear of mastitus!

Ania - posted on 09/22/2010

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maybe you should consult it with lactation conultant, look for the one in your area through kellymom.com

Margaret - posted on 09/22/2010

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I had a lot of clogged ducts nursing 3 children but, in my experience, a clogged duct never resulted in blood or puss being expressed. I'd contact my OB/GYN or a mid-wife (there are midwives in my OB/GYN practice) to make sure all is ok and that it's not dangerous for your child to nurse on that side. As for how to clear the clogged duct, you did exactly what always, and only, worked for me... a hot shower and very forceful (read: painful) massage pushing downward toward the nipple to clear the clog. Good luck.

Melissa - posted on 09/22/2010

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all great advise!! i had mastitis, and when i couldnt put het on my breast i had a cold cabbage leaf in my bra, it helped so much. before and after nursing especially before that side i would put a HOT face washer on my breast to sofen the clog that way it was not as painful also easier for my daughtr to feed.
goodluck hope u bet better ral soon!!!

Kathy - posted on 09/22/2010

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I think the advice about the bowl of hot water and Epsom salt was great!
Another thing you really need to remember is to rest! It does sound like you are on the other side of it , which is great, but you still need to rest and care for it until you are back 100% Garlic is a natural antibiotic, if your baby doesnt mind you eating garlic then you should increase that in your diet for next week or so just to make sure the infection is all the way gone. And lots of vitamin C and fluids!

Sarah - posted on 09/21/2010

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My midwife told me to let that baby get angry by waiting 15 minutes and she'll suck the blockage right out. She also said don't worry about what comes out b/c they're her germs. If you start to get feverish or it's getting worse, get yourself to the doctor. I like the epson salt idea.

Krista - posted on 09/21/2010

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Just because a duct is above your nipple doesn't mean it doesn't get used. you have ducts that run all the way into your armpit.

Julie - posted on 09/19/2010

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I did a few things, hot wash cloth and message and then i also used, sounds weird but works , cabbage leaves, take a cabbage leave and place it on counter and roll it with a rolling pin and place it in your bra when your Not breastfeeding and something in the cabbage breaks down the clogged duct, i thought the first time i heard to do it they were crazy but it worked , ive had 4 kids and BF them all and i have even had girlfriends call asking what to do and i tell them that and it works.........hope the info helps, cause i know how painful it can be

Marika - posted on 09/19/2010

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I have had a couple of clogged ducts and one turned into a mild case of mastitis (I think that's spelled right). I never had any bleeding from the area, but there was a pretty large bump in the area that was red and sore. My doctor told me to continue to feed from that side and it should eventually clear the duct and eventually it did. So I would say as long as there is no more blood and puss being excreted to go ahead and try to continue feeding from that side, but I would probably call or go to the doctor if you are especially concerned about feeding from that side. Good luck and I hope this helps you!

Hannah - posted on 09/18/2010

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I had Mastitus a month ago.. you might want to get it checked out if it is really worrying you. The good thing is mastitus dose not affect your milk so if thats what it is your baby can continue to nurse without concern. However it is important that you get this checked because any infection in your body is a cause for concern. The Dr told me to use hot compresses ANY time you feel like you could have a clogged duct. My favorite compress is a clean diaper soaked in water and heated in the microwave for a few seconds.. it stays hot and you can reheat it!!! Works wonders! Feel better and take care of yourself!!

Cheryl Stinson - posted on 09/17/2010

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Sounds like you could have mastitis maybe. Have you been running a fever any? If no fever and it seems to be getting better I would just keep nursing. massaging, and using moist heat to unclog it. But if it is not getting better and you are running a fever, you should go and see your doc.

Clare - posted on 09/17/2010

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warm/ hot compresses help immensely. alternatively,fill an oldsock, or small bag with grain or dried beans, sealend ( sew,tie a knot) and microwave for about a minute.result: moist heat that lasts. if it continues for more than three days or so,call ur doctor, as u may need antibiotics. but it shouldn't. also, continue to breastfeed/ express as usual. it may be unconfortable,but it is important to continue in order to help remove the clog . also,clogged duct plus engorgement equals ouch. hope this helps.

Katrina - posted on 09/16/2010

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It's a good sign that the lump is getting smaller and you're not feeling worse. I would massage it whenever you get a chance. When you're in the shower especially. When I get them I grab a towel and when my little one nurses on the other side I let the let down go on the other side then massage it after the feeding. Nurse more on that side to get things moving. After each feeding on that side massage the area as well, when your nursing too. Cold works for the discomfort and warm works to break loose the blockage. It can take a good week for the full discomfort to go away. Like I said..the fact that it's getting better and not worse is a good sign.

Jodi - posted on 09/16/2010

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With puss, I would definately call my doctor, it could very quickly lead to mastitis that could need antibiotics for. In the meantime, try massaging as much as possible, nursing off of that side as much as possible and also warm showers are supposed to help when combined with the massaging. Best of luck and I hope it clears up soon!

Gloria - posted on 09/16/2010

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I had a clogged duct and from your description that seems like what happened with you...unless it gets worse instead of better you shouldn't worry, just keep nursing on that side even though it hurts, at least that is what the dr. had me do. It should get better in about 5-7 days. If it starts to become more painful or your breast feels hot then it could be a sign of infection and you may need antibiotics but other wise it will clear up on it's own.

Charity - posted on 09/16/2010

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Ooh Painful! I'm sorry. I have had plugged ducts a few times, but with massage and nursing, they have been fine. The first time I had that problem, I didn't recognize it soon enough and it led to mastitis, which I was quite sick with. If you have blood or pus, you should definatly call your doctor. My lactation consultant reccommends creative positioning when possible so that the babe's lower lip is in the direction of the plugged duct, but this sounds worse. I live on a farm, and when the cows have problems and there is pus or blood present, it can be very bad for them. I can't immagine so different for us, a mammary gland is a mammary gland after all. Hope you feel better soon, and please call your doc!

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