Saturday, April 22, 2017

How to get rid of clogged milk ducts and mastitis issues

This is the third baby I've breast fed, and I've never had so many problems with clogged milk ducts and breast infections (mastitis). With my son, I got mastitis once a month, from six months, up to his tenth month, and then I stopped nursing him. This time, I got mastitis at two weeks, four weeks, twelve weeks, and fourteen weeks.

Honestly, I didn't get a clogged duct, until I started using the milk maid tea. It might just have been a coincidence, however, the next time I used it, I got the clogs again. Then I threw it away. When you get a clogged milk duct, it feels like you have a frozen pea, large marble (or larger) right under the skin. It won't go away without, heat, massage, constant nursing or pumping, and I think daily Lecithin is needed as well.

Lecithin is a supplement that can be bought online, or from health food stores, that is supposed to keep the milk uniform. It keeps the fat from separating from the milk, and makes it an even consistency. When the milk fat separates in the breast, clogs will form, and one of mine even felt like a golf ball size and would NOT go away for three days. I bought the sunflower lecithin, because I think my daughter has a problem with lactose and soy. The other is a lecithin form soybeans. Both work well for people.

I called my OBGYN office, and I was put through to a midwife I had never even seen before. She was very sympathetic.  She wanted me to come in right away and have an ultrasound, and they did a mammogram as well. This was because my mother was recently diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer, so they wanted to rule this out. She also wrote me up an immediate prescription for Occupational therapy on the breast with ultrasound waves. I made an appointment right away, I would highly recommend asking for it, if you think you have this problem. I had no idea!

The mammogram procedure was horrible, because my right breast was so engorged with several lumpy clogs in it. I brought my pump with me to the office, and was trying to pump out any breast milk I could in the waiting area behind a curtain. I couldn't get a drop out, until my breast was smashed to bits by the mammogram. Then I pumped out three ounces, but the clogs were still there. I was able to pump out a bit more after the ultrasound person had pushed the wand into my breast all over, which hurt too. BUT the clogs were still there.

I took hot baths, hot showers, lots of massage, and took that daily 1200 mg of lecithin, sometimes I added a second pill at night for 2400mg. But I have to warn, two or three in a day, made me feel very sad and depressed, and I  have read of others experiencing this online. I wanted to be very persistent with the massage and kept taking the lecithin, although I felt I was getting nowhere.

I think that the Lecithin works slowly on breaking the clogs down, because I could feel they were reducing in size, but they were still there. One was like a long strip, going from the top of the breast down to the nipple. They were so awful. One night I felt one pop as I was massaging it and using the breast pump, and all this milk came pouring out. By the next day, when I had my OT appointment, I felt like most of the clogs had gone down in size, but I'm glad I still went in.

When I laid flat on the table and put my arm behind my head, I could still feel the clogs were there. She put the ultrasound wand on them, and told me that it was directing a heat at the clogs. She said my body was responding well to breaking them down. After several minutes on each clog, she did a cross friction massage on each clog with two fingers on each hand.

After all this, she demonstrated to me how to massage the lymph nodes in my neck, the lymph nodes in my armpits, and a gross friction massage on my breast using both my whole hands on one breast at a time. She gave me a handout with this link http://pmr.med.umich.edu/bfsp for breast massage for preventing clogged milk ducts. The therapist suggested that I massage the lymph nodes first, then the breast before I pump or breast feed the baby for prevention. If there are clogs, heat should be used first, followed by the massage and breast feeding. I can also return for future visits, if I feel I find clogs that I cannot remove on my own.

I read about people trying to poke at the clogs with needles, but I would not advise this, due to risk for infection and damage to your ducts! I did not try this, and did not feel it was a good idea, even with a "sterilized needle". I was really glad that I stuck with the Lecithin, although I did give up for a day and decided to not take it. But when I noticed the clogs shrinking, I went back to taking it every day. I have been taking it now for four weeks, every day, and I think it is helpful in prevention of the clogs.

One more thing on supplements for raising the milk supply. I don't think there are any miracle cures out there for low milk supply. I tried the fenugreek pills, and also the milk teas, and honestly the teas just my clogs return. The fenugreek gave me loose stools, which are listed on the bottle, and made my baby fussy, gassy and constipated for DAYS. I only took the pills for two days, and then threw them out. There was no increase in my milk supply. I couldn't continue to give these a chance, because of the instant problems I saw. I know they have worked for others, but I think the added hydration will make anyones milk supply go up.

My milk supply dipped with all the infections and clogs. I also tried to cut out night nursing when I kept getting sick, in an attempt to get more sleep. My doctor suggested this. This was VERY BAD for my supply, and it dipped majorly. I went from having a huge surplus, to not having enough milk and having to add formula supplements in. For now, I am drowning myself in water, peeing a lot, and trying to get a nap if I can. I have also returned to night nursing. Night nursing is pumping or feeding the baby at least once between midnight and 6am.  This has brought my milk supply back up to enough for my baby, but I no longer have a big surplus where I am freezing extra milk. The milk that I pump in the night waits in the refrigerator until the baby needs it as a supplement during the day. Any formula I give to my baby makes her spit up, whether it's lactose free or not, so I like to avoid it if I can.

I hope this helps people out there struggling with breastfeeding problems. Just keep taking the Lecithin, it slowly shrinks the clogs, and keep massaging away at them. They will be gone after a few days. When I was searching for info, I really didn't find much online, and had never heard of going to occupational therapy for breast feeding issues. Also, this is my THIRD baby, and this stuff NEVER happened to me with the other two kids. It just goes to show, every time you have a child, the experiences can be so completely different from before.

1 comment:

  1. Fenugreek never worked for me. I had a much better result taking Goat's Rue.

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