how I deal with engorgement & clogged milk ducts

My Experience

My boobs were huge – they have gone down slightly probably the size they were while I was pregnant.  Engorgement happened for me during 0-3 months.  It’s while your body is trying to figure out how much milk your baby needs so you tend to overproduce which causes you to be even bigger and fuller which means hard, painful and heavy.

After a month I experienced engorgement mainly when I had waited too long in between pumping (I pumped during the day exclusively and nursed at night in bed).  I went out with work colleagues about 6 weeks later and went to dinner which meant that I got home later than the time I normally pumped. That was super painful I was running in the house and pumped immediately.  After my baby stopped feeding in the night I would become full and tight in the morning but it wasn’t painful like in the beginning.

How I Coped

I took warm showers at night when it was worse for me and massaged in the shower.  If it was time to feed then that helped with the relief but when it wasn’t  I got out the breast pump.  When it’s that painful you have to get it out – it is counterintuitive that you need to get the milk out which stimulates production but in the end it all balances out.  And when it’s extra milk just start freezing it so you have a stockpile for when you are away from your baby for the day or get sick and have to take medication or if you want to stop breastfeeding before a year but still give your baby breast milk.

What I do:

Clogged milk ducts are equally as painful in a different way and dangerous.  At five months I have experienced them a handful of times.  You have no idea they are coming and I do the same thing everyday so I’m not sure why exactly they happen.  In the beginning months you may feel lumps inside your boobs which are probably clogged ducts.  I would always massage myself in the beginning in the shower no matter if I felt engorged or clogged I just wanted to make sure it was all okay.  For minor clogs in the beginning massaging would usually relax the lumps or make them disappear completely.

Then I had a really bad clog.  I woke up in pain with my boob hurting and throbbing. At first it wasn’t easy to understand what the pain was but once you feel around you will notice a large hard lump and the surface skin will be tender and painful to the touch.  The best thing you can do is try to get rid of it right away because you don’t want the pain but you also don’t want to get mastitis which is a bad painful infection inside your boob that you need medication for.

It’s so painful that you need to do something immediately like pump or feed.  Heat also helps relax your ducts so I started using heat pads which helped.  I altered my pumping schedule so that I would pump longer to see if I would get it all out while manually massaging and pressing on the lump to see if that would also help dislodge it.  After 20 min if it was still there I would stop.  The pain level will be reduced to something tolerable but you are very aware it is still there.  So I would pump again exactly two hours later to see if that helped.  Usually pumping twice in two hours helps it go away.  When it doesn’t though that’s when I have tried feeding next.  I think sometimes a baby’s latch can be the only thing that can help clear it.  But also feel like they know somehow that you are in pain and they really try to adjust their sucking pace and strength during to help unclog the duct.

Now for me once it is unclogged you’re relieved and the pain has subsided.  But I don’t know about anyone else but I can still get painful twinges for the rest of the day randomly where the clog was and sometimes for two days.  So I think it usually takes a day or two for the clog to completely disappear.

The worst clogs for me are ones that start in the middle of the night and wake you up because of the pain.  These have been lumps that started under my armpit and go to my boob.


Have you had a painful experience with this as well?  Share your stories and/or tips below . . .


#breastfeeding #engorgement #cloggedmilkducts #cloggedducts #heat #lansinoh #heatingpads #breastpump #medela #massage #warmshower #newmom #millennialmom