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Thread: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Default Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    I am nursing my 7 week old baby girl from one breast because I have had so much trouble with the other (4 bouts of mastitis and thrush on that side) that it hurt too much to nurse. I haven't effectively nursed her off that side in probably two weeks. She REFUSES that side, probably due to engorgement, but I can't get any more than a few drops to come out, ever. I have hand-expressed and used the Lanisoh manual pump (the one everyone raves about), and it makes no difference....the milk will only form tiny beads on the surface of my nipple.

    The other side lets down fine when shes nursing, but the affected breast doesn't do a thing. I've stood in the shower, soaked it in warm to hot water, applied cabbage leaves, applied ice packs (reduces swelling in a minor way, but as soon as the breast warms back up, it's hard as a rock again), tried basically forcing her to nurse, tried a nipple shield....nothing. This used to be my most dominant side in terms of powerful let-down, etc. but now it's totally unusable.

    I went and saw a LC and she wanted me to do cabbage leaves for 20 mins, followed by ice for 20 mins, then stand in the shower with warm water hitting my back only (not the breasts), then pumping. Still nothing beyond a few drops. In fact, attempting to pump makes it WORSE because it stimulates the breast and I feel it getting fuller afterwards, but the milk has NOWHERE TO GO and will not come out. The LC theorized that I'm so engorged that "it's like stepping on a hose" and it restricts the milk ducts from being able to release.

    I have GOT to get some relief and nothing seems to really help me. I'm in so much pain. Nursing has been a nightmare for me overall and I'm having a hard time getting effective support....can anyone offer advice? Why is it so hard to get my milk out? I can't even get my areola acceptably soft. I can't even sleep right now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    Sounds painful mama! Maybe this link will help?
    Little SW, Aug '09
    Miss MW, Jan '11
    Sir RW, Oct '12
    3 kids in 38 mos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    TX
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    Good link! I used that technique with good results. Sometimes, it does just get so engorged that nothing can move at all.

    I also sometimes had to get on my hands and knees and let gravity help. I remember one time being on my hands and knees with my breasts in a basin of very warm water, and then just kind of milking the engorged side until some of the milk started finally flowing.

    With the cabbage, are you crushing it first? It works better if it has been lightly crushed first, and is very cold. I wore it in my bra until it was completely wilted, more than the 20 minutes I was told to use it.
    Teal

    25 May 96 and 14 January 08 and 27 February 2012

  4. #4
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    I spoke with my lactation consultant, who let me take home a rental pump today. It's a Medela Symphony, supposedly one of the best hospital-grade pumps out there....and still just drops, if anything. I don't even have a dime-sized amount in the collection bottle from pumping for about 15 minutes. What I do have, however, are whitish nipples with blackish-purple areolas. I'm assuming this means I had the suction up too high? I've never used an electric pump before. I had it turned up as high as it would go and I was still unable to get anything beyond tiny little surface droplets, or nothing at all.

    I'm getting extremely exasperated at this point and I'm even beginning to entertain the idea of weaning because I just can't seem to get good help and I'm tired of always being in pain from BF. I DO NOT want to stop, but I really need some advice from someone knowledgeable. Anyone else know what to do if the breast is so engorged that virtually NO MILK comes out? I'm desperate.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    127

    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    So sorry to hear about how difficult things are for you right now! I had the same experience (terrible engorgement with no let down) with my second LO. I too worked with a LC, and for me, neither my baby nor the hospital grade pump helped me to let down.

    I wish I had an easy solution for you! For me, what eventually worked was days of consistent use of ice (after nursing) and heat (before nursing). Gradually, the problem resolved, the engorgement lessened, and the milk let down easily.

    Do you have easy-to-use ice and heat packs? I got these this time around, and they were so much easier than anything I had done before! I got two sets; we kept one set in the freezer and kept the other for heating. Made the ice/heat pack cycle so much easier on my husband and I -- especially in the middle of the night -- which helped me to be more consistent with it!

    Hang in there! Keep us updated!

    Proud Mother of ThreePrecious Children

    Calder Anwyn
    February 21, 2006
    Nursed Until 18 Months
    Ewan Walker
    May 31, 2008
    Nursed Until 15 Months
    Reed Bennett
    February 26, 2011
    Off to a beautiful start...!



  6. #6
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    I just called Medela and spoke with a very nice lady who was not a LC but gave me a few suggestions (albeit the same old stuff, like warm shower just before pumping, etc.). She said she had had a similar problem personally, and it was so nice to talk to someone who knew I wasn't crazy....I think my LC thinks I'm exaggerating or making it up when I tell her I can't get milk out. That in itself is quite discouraging.

    For the last two days, I've been doing cooled cabbage leaves for 20 minutes + ice (a bag of frozen peas) for 20 minutes, then a quick warm shower then trying to express. I'll look into those ice/heat packs, because I *HAAAAATE* having ANYTHING even touch my nipple....especially when I'm so engorged that my nipple can't even squish down into my areola if something's pressing against it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*minervabtfl View Post
    She said she had had a similar problem personally, and it was so nice to talk to someone who knew I wasn't crazy....I think my LC thinks I'm exaggerating or making it up when I tell her I can't get milk out. That in itself is quite discouraging.
    This is interesting, because my LC acted confused by my description of the problem as well -- as if it was out of the ordinary or something -- and I couldn't ever really figure out why. She just didn't seem to buy the fact that I was not letting down, and she seemed to feel that pumping would solve the problem...despite the fact that, like you, the pumping got me nothing. Hang in there! I'm glad you got to talk to someone who understands!

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*minervabtfl View Post
    I'll look into those ice/heat packs, because I *HAAAAATE* having ANYTHING even touch my nipple....especially when I'm so engorged that my nipple can't even squish down into my areola if something's pressing against it.
    Exactly!

    Thanks for your update and continued good luck to you!

    Proud Mother of ThreePrecious Children

    Calder Anwyn
    February 21, 2006
    Nursed Until 18 Months
    Ewan Walker
    May 31, 2008
    Nursed Until 15 Months
    Reed Bennett
    February 26, 2011
    Off to a beautiful start...!



  8. #8
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    May 2008
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    SW Ohio
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*duckpond View Post
    Good link! I used that technique with good results. Sometimes, it does just get so engorged that nothing can move at all.

    I also sometimes had to get on my hands and knees and let gravity help. I remember one time being on my hands and knees with my breasts in a basin of very warm water, and then just kind of milking the engorged side until some of the milk started finally flowing.
    with all of this.

    you might even talk to your MD about taking an OTC anti-inflammatory. cabbage leaves and cold compresses help with this, but if the tissue is inflamed it makes it difficult for the milk to pass through. it's actually how mastitis begins; as inflammation, not the full-blown infection. the infection comes as a result of the inadequate milk flow.

    have you tried the reverse pressure softening?

    hang in there mama.
    JoEllen married to Jason 10-29-2005.

    Mama to Logan 12-26-2007
    Breastfed for 2 years and weaned on his own terms


    Our Lincoln 6-11-2011 to 9-12-2011
    my homebirthed-water baby, who was born with a broken heart




    And our special blessing, Leonidas 9-5-2012. A toddler who loves his "boops!"

    Come visit our blog here!

    SURPRISE!!! We caught the first PP egg and are currently baking baby BOY #4! Due to arrive late-Jan/early-Feb

  9. #9
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*ohiomama View Post
    with all of this.

    you might even talk to your MD about taking an OTC anti-inflammatory. cabbage leaves and cold compresses help with this, but if the tissue is inflamed it makes it difficult for the milk to pass through. it's actually how mastitis begins; as inflammation, not the full-blown infection. the infection comes as a result of the inadequate milk flow.

    have you tried the reverse pressure softening?

    hang in there mama.
    I haven't really tried the reverse pressure softening, but I'm a little afraid to do it. I'm sure I have at least one plugged duct - could that make things worse? Won't it hurt like heck?

    I'll be willing to try, only if there is some chance it will actually help me in this situation. How would it help, by softening the areola so the pump would work better? Or should I hand express or nurse afterwards instead?

    I hope I can get this worked out. I really don't want to give up breastfeeding. I would never forgive myself.

  10. #10
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Too Engorged and No Milk Coming Out

    BTW, I've tried taking 400 mg ibuprofen during this time with no obvious improvement. I wonder if taking more or taking prescription-strength would make any noticeable difference.

    I actually wish the milk on that side would just dry up. Will it not dry up with me nursing the other side only? Because it's been weeks since LO has truly nursed from the "affected" side....and it's still full of milk....

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