White spots, blocked ducts and mastitis
Everyone is different with many women getting sore breasts. Knowing what to look for means you can be proactive in managing any problems
White spots, milk blisters or a blocked nipple pores
All mean the same thing! They occur when a tiny bit of skin overgrows a milk duct opening and milk backs up behind it. It usually shows up as a white dot on your nipple.
Applying a warm flannel then hand expressing, trying to gently pop it like a pimple is the easiest way to get rid of it. In the shower works even better.
Blocked ducts are caused when an area of the breast gets blocked and the milk flow is obstructed. It normally comes on gradually and affects only one breast.
You will usually notice and be able to feel a wedge like a hard lump, which may feel tender, hot, swollen or look red. Typically it will feel tender at the beginning of the feed and feel less tender with the lump being smaller at the end. You may also notice that you have a milk blister on the nipple.
Milk supply from the affected breast may decrease temporality. This is normal and is not long term. You may also notice strings of thickened fatty looking milk coming from your breast. Again this is normal.
You need to make sure that you don’t stop feeding and make sure you feed frequently emptying the breasts completely. Remember also not to neglect the other breast. Hand expressing or pumping after a feed can also help empty the breast completely.
Use heat and gently massage before feeding. Making sure you feed on the affected side first, ensuring a good latch. (Apply heat by using a warm cloth or dangling your breasts in a sink of warm water)
You may also find changing positions and doing breast compressions while you feed can also help (Pushing down on the sore plugged area towards the nipple for 5 seconds at a time)
Rest and adequate fluids will also help.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast often due to an infection and is most likely to occur within the first 6 weeks, but can occur at any time. Somewhere between 10 – 20 % of mothers get mastitis and its not fun if it happens to you.
Like a blocked duct it affects only one breast and you will usually notice and be able to feel a wedge like hard lump, which may feel tender, hot, swollen or look red but the pain will be more intense. Your expressed milk may also look lumpy and clumpy and may occasionally contain mucus, pus or blood.
You also may;
- Have a temperature above 38 degrees
- Feel yucky, tired and miserable
- Feel hot or cold, have chills or a fever
- Have flu like aching
Its important to seek medical help if you think you have mastitis as you will often need antibiotics. If you don’t get any better within 1-2 days of antibiotics you may need to go to hospital for intravenous antibiotics.
Do not decrease feeds or stop feeding if you have mastitis,
You need to make sure that you frequently empty the breasts completely.
Remember “ Heat, Massage, Empty breast”
Use heat and gently massage before feeding. Make sure you feed on the affected side first, ensuring a good latch if you can. If it’s too painful, start on the non-infected side then switch to the affected breast. (Apply heat by using a warm cloth or dangling your breasts in a sink of warm water)
You may also find changing positions and doing breast compressions while you feed can also help (pushing down on the sore plugged area towards the nipple for 5 seconds at a time)
You could also try dangle feeding (which is when you feed leaning over your baby so gravity aids in dislodging the plug. After you feed either pump or hand express if you can to fully empty the breasts.
Mastitis is often a way of telling your body to slow down, so you will need to make sure you rest, rest, rest (preferably bed rest with your baby) while making sure you increase your fluids and get as much help as possible. Many women also find taking Vitamin C tablets helps.
* Please note, breast care is very important and any lumps should be taken seriously. Further to the information provided above, please seek medical care from a professional practitioner.
- BreastFedNZ App