Every breastfeeding mother fears that hot hard lump.
Will it move? Why is this happening? What will I do??
These are the common questions I get from troubled mothers wanting the hot, uncomfortable feeling of a full milk duct to pass.
Why does Mastitis and blocked ducts happen?
They are due to a lack of movement of milk through your milk ducts this then causes and increase in bacterial growth- hence causing an infection. This can be from positional drainage issues, not emptying the breast before moving on to the other side or high fat milk that is ‘sticking’ to the inside of the milk ducts.
Often with a blocked duct women can also find they get blebs. Yes you may think what is a bleb! They are nasty little high fat milk blockages that look like pimples on the end of your nipples.
What can I do??
If your feeling unwell you might need a course of antibiotics. In some cases an abscess can form (very uncomfortable) this might need to be drained. Normally you would need antibiotics if your temperature if very high and you feel unwell with flu like symptoms. This can also occur quickly (like a thunder storm).
If your feeling that your milk is not draining well and a small lump is present without a high temp you can normally get on top of things.
Firstly drainage is important. We want to get that milk moving to move the bacteria and start to solve the problem. Your baby is the best drainage. So put your baby to that breast more often and point there chin towards the lump. If you need warm pack first and then a cool pack after to help ease the discomfort. You might then have to express the other breast to stop then same problem happening again.
A drug like panadol or neurofen can help with the discomfort and temperature.
Once you have got over the initial problem then have a think about why has it happened.
Is is after a growth spurt, or a period of time when your baby hasn’t fed well.
Are your nipples sore and this is making you favour the other side??
So it is important to treat the problem but also look at the potential reasons.
In some cases with a big lump a Physio can help with ultrasound or some herbal supplements can help with decreasing the fat content of your breastmilk.
As always a qualified Lactation Consultant can offer a review and plan to get you over this time and stop it happening again.
Try not to worry that this will be forever. It will pass just like those sleepless nights when you first brought that little person home.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association has great online resources that can also help. The Baby Manual also goes through lots of breastfeeding tips and tricks to make this time easier for you.