If you are breastfeeding your baby, you can sometimes experience these. If a milk duct is not draining well, it can become plugged or clogged, and inflammation builds up. This creates a tender, sore, lump in an area of the breast. These ‘milk lumps’ can come quickly and without warning. For me, it begins when I suddenly notice a bit of discomfort or tenderness in a spot, and then I can feel a small hard lump when I press on the area. Occasionally, I may get a lump forming from over pumping or when baby suddenly revs up demand for breast milk, causing the breasts to try to increase milk production quickly to match the increase in demand. Once the ‘milk lump’ forms though, it seems to take the better part of the day to resolve fully and I have to apply many measures including getting baby to consistently drain that spot for a couple of feeds. So the best thing I would advise is to keep checking (especially the prone breast or side that tends to get ‘milk lumps’ more easily) frequently, even daily if possible. But if you already feel a tenderness and hard lump forming, don’t worry—here are a few things from experience that you can try which may help ease the discomfort:
Massage, massage, massage.
When you feel a ‘let down’ reflex, especially at night, it often helps to massage the breast tissue (especially the outer parts of the breast) thoroughly using the base of your hand/palm in a big gentle circular motion to help with milk flow and circulation. Another tip is to massage the breast tissue all around the nipple as baby is sucking on that breast so as to help drain the different areas of the breast around it evenly.
Try using a different breastfeeding position.
Sometimes the tendency is to stick to a breastfeeding position because that’s what you and baby are used to. But if you find one particular position may be causing a milk lump to form on a part of a breast more frequently, then it may be time to try a new or different position! Your current breastfeeding position may be what is causing the milk lump to form, because a certain area is not being draining properly.
Change baby’s sucking direction.
During the course of a breastfeed session, you can switch positions and baby’s sucking direction a few times, to help drain different parts of the breast. If you already have a lump formed, then try lining up baby’s chin with the location of the lump so that it forms a straight line vertically, diagonally or horizontally to help with draining that specific area.
Try a hot shower.
A hot shower with hot water directed at the area, and some added massaging can help ease the discomfort you feel. Another idea is to put a hot wet cloth on the affected part of the breast a few times a day to help soothe that area.