With my second child, I suffered of recurrent plugged ducts… A plugged duct causes pain in the breast, with a noticeable lump, and sometimes accompanied by a white spot at the tip of the nipple. I used to have chills at night and a terrible malaise, very similar to mastitis.
Poor latch, abundant supply or insufficient drainage are some of the causes of a plugged duct. I was one of the lucky moms whose baby started to sleep through the night quite soon. But, there’s no heaven without tears; this was my second child, so my milk supply was considerably higher than the first time.
Unfortunately, my well-deserved sleep was often interrupted by the unpleasant symptoms of a blocked duct, and sometimes a beginning of mastitis.
I got to the point that I knew exactly the moment when it started, it was an unmistakable discomfort. After 24 hours of frequent breast massage, warm showers, hand expression and pumping sessions, and breastfeeding my baby with his chin pointing on the lumps, together with a couple of ibuprofen tablets, the symptoms finally stated to improve. And this is how I avoided antibiotics.
To make the story short, the solution for me was not to spend more than four hours without draining my breasts. I used to place my alarm every night after the last feeding before going to bed, just to wake up to pump. It was a little annoying, but I have to admit that it gave me some level of pleasure to watch my milk flowing, and being able to fill day by day a small milk bank... Of course, this didn’t last forever; at some point my baby reached a milestone or a growth spurt or whatever it was, and he started to wake up many times at night to breastfeed…
Treatments are many, including diet variations, such as adding lecithin and polyunsaturated fats, in order to decrease the thickness of fats in breast milk, as somethings this could be the cause of a plugged duct. Breastfeeding in different positions may also help to liberate the blockage. Unfortunately, they don’t work the same way for every mom. The solution that I found for myself won’t necessary help other women; but my point is, even if we have the knowledge or not, we must try to understand our body’s signals, those are our best guidance to heal.
Lactation is not an exact science. Breastfeeding professionals must empower mothers to trust their instincts and try different treatments. And moms shouldn’t be afraid of looking for help when they feel something is not going well.