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Our 1-year-old has been weaned off breast milk for a little over a week now, which was completely her doing. My wife has been dealing with the engorgement since then, which she says has subsided. However she noticed a hard lump in her breast. We think it's a blocked milk duct and not mastitis. From reading about mastitis, she thinks it should be much more painful, and she isn't presenting with a fever or chills or anything like that.

Most of the treatment for blocked ducts or mastitis involves making sure you continue to breastfeed in order to drain. Of course, our problem is our daughter is weaned. My wife doesn't want to express her milk, as this will set her back as far as stopping milk production... we think.

What we should do? If it is just a blocked duct, will it simply clear on its own?

  • Expressing milk will extend the time to stop milk production, but that may be worth it to unblock a duct. – Acire Apr 22 '15 at 14:47
  • It's fine to express. One wants to decrease the milk production gradually. Anyway, very few people are as good at expressing milk as a baby is at extracting milk. The La Leche League book has a great section on this topic. – aparente001 Apr 28 '15 at 5:50
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Try a warm compress on the knot for a few days, several times a day. She can also try to GENTLY massage the knot towards the nipple; if it's a blocked duct, the warm compress should loosen it up, and then she can massage it out of the nipple.

If she presents with a fever or pain, or anything that seems like it could be an infection, make sure she heads to the doctor post-haste. Mastitis is SUCH a pain.

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    If basic massaging doesn't work, you can try using a karate chop hand position on the side where the knot is, start where the breast connects to your chest and press slowly and in the direction of the nipple. Provide opposing or counter force with your other hand by holding the breast on the opposite side from the knot. It is uncomfortable to be sure, but can move the knot along a little more aggressively and make for a quicker change in things. I had a horrible blocked duct that led to repeated cases of mastitis so I highly recommend a visit with your OB/GYN if it doesn't clear quickly. – balanced mama Jan 10 '14 at 15:15
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Try massaging the lump with a vibrator or electric toothbrush. As you do, work it towards the nipple and express or even pump some milk to help get the clog out. Hot showers or compresses can help, too. It’s worth extending her milk production a little to avoid an infection.

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