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Thread: Mastitis and Poor Milk Supply

  1. #1

    Default Mastitis and Poor Milk Supply

    Hi, I got mastitis in my right breast when LO was 6 weeks old (she is now 21 weeks). The impact was that the entire left side of my breast no longer produces milk. This meant that I had a significantly smaller right breast and about half the milk production. LO wasn't impacted as I was pumping extra sessions before that.

    About 4 weeks ago, I learned that I have excess lipase in my milk. I am donating the huge supply I have at home, but am now going through the scalding method so that LO takes the bottle.

    Last week, my left breast came down with mastitis. Can't win!!! After seven days of nursing/resting/massage/heat/etc. I think I have a repeat of the right breast. I've lost about 1/3 of the milk production on the left side. So, now, everything I pump, she takes - nothing for overage or storage. I've done everything I can to increase production, and seen no results. I wanted to breastfeed LO for 12 months, but it seems as though I will have to supplement at some point. Also, we're introducing solids at this stage as well - not what I wanted, but she's been reaching for them and eyeing them for two weeks!

    Here are my questions:
    1. Is there anything that can be done (surgically or otherwise) to repair the damaged ducts? I have asked my doctor, who said no, but honestly don't rely on anything an ob/gyn says, as they tend to know so little about breastfeeding, etc.

    2. When I have my next child, will my supply increase, or will I only be able to produce what I'm producing now?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Mastitis and Poor Milk Supply

    I had breast surgery on my right breast when I was in my early 20's -- two lumpectomies. I never knew how little that side actually produces until this baby, where I EP. It makes about 8 oz in 24 hours. Thank goodness for my left, which makes way, way more than that! But no, there is no way to fix the cut ducts for me. However...for your situation, you can rebuild your supply post mastitis. I can't count the number of times I've had mastitis during the last almost 7 years of nursing, and it's always come back.

    For your situation...why do you need a storage? If you are pumping what she needs, that's OK. And FWIW, as a BF baby ages, they don't need more than what they take at about 4 months -- their milk intake maxes out at about then, with most BF babies taking just 1 to 1.5 oz per hour, and your milk composition changes to meet baby's needs. So if you are making enough to meet her needs, you are doing just fine, and I see no need to supplement later. Most BF babies only need a max of 4 oz in a bottle at daycare. If she isn't going to daycare....just nurse.

    Even though she's reaching for solids, she doesn't know what they are She probably reaches for knives. Are you going to give her one of those? Probably not. I would STOP solids for now and hold off until closer to 6 months...otherwise, you risk having a baby who fills up on solids and not breastmilk, and then that baby nurses less, and then you either have to pump or your supply really suffers, and then, no, you won't make it to 12 months

    For recovering a milk supply -- and it can be done, as there are many women here who have BTDT -- try the following:
    nurse or pump or both (nurse one side and pump the other at the same time) every 2 hours around the clock. Yes, this means you really must night nurse or night pump or both. The prolactin level boost you get will really help your supply!
    use a hospital grade pump if you have to pump
    breast compressions while you pump. Even if you get just a few drops.
    nursing is way, way better than pumping at rebuilding a supply. Allow unrestricted access to the breast. If baby seems like she's not filling up on one side, switch. Keep switching. This may mean you go to bed for a few days and just nurse while watching baby's wets and stools.
    Try different herbs, such as fenugreek and blessed thistle. Alfalfa, red raspberry leaf are good for the ducts.
    Eat oatmeal.
    Give it time. It may take a while to rebuild your supply.
    Skin to skin contact helps build and maintain supply. I EP for a cleft baby, and I still cosleep with him to keep my supply up.

    If you are EPing, there are some other things you can do to increase supply, but the basic premise of that is to pump. All the time. Around the clock. And it takes longer if you try to rebuild a supply via EPing because a pump, even a hospital grade, is not as good as a baby. That's why it takes a good 12 weeks to establish a supply while EPing versus just a few weeks while nursing.

    You can do this. Don't give up!!
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Mastitis and Poor Milk Supply

    Welcome! So sorry you've faced the challenges you've had. But kudos to you for continuing to nurse!

    Mastitis can definitely reduce production in the affected areas of the breast. But generally if you continue to nurse on demand the baby will be able to increase production again. But... I'm assuming your nursing and not exclusively pumping? If you're EP, the principal is the same- increase demand and your supply should respond. But it's harder to increase supply when pumping, so it will take more time and effort to get the job done. (Sorry, I hate saying that.)

    Your supply may well be more abundant with your next baby. Mine certainly was!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Mastitis and Poor Milk Supply

    Thank you both for your advice!

    Unfortunately, I work and travel quite a lot - which is why I'm trying to build supply. I need to plan on being away from her for three nights minimum every month - hence the build up in supply. I pump at work and nurse in the morning and at night. I'll start pumping more during the day and try a night pumping as well - we'll see if that works. I'm eating oatmeal and have introduced the other herbs as well - we'll see if extra pumping works!

    As far as solids - I was in the camp that refused to give my baby anything until a minimum of six months. And believe me, I still am. But this LO is way ahead of things - she's been sitting up for a month, she's pulling herself up in to sitting positions and trying to stand - at almost 5 months! Then, her tongue reflex disappeared about two weeks ago - right about the time she started eyeing food - not utensils. At that point, I was still not interested in giving food. However, my husband was really convincing. I only give her about three spoonfuls of pureed apples AFTER I nurse and only once a day. The great thing is, her gas problems have almost disappeared - and she's having regular BMs - when she used to go three days without one. I honestly think her body needed the extra fiber!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Mastitis and Poor Milk Supply

    Hey, there's nothing magic about that 6 month birthday! Some kids are ready for solids earlier, others later... Reading your baby and responding to her as an individual is the best path, and it sounds like that's the path you're taking.

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