Scary and frustrating weekend here - need support and advice - sorry this is long.
DD is 5 mos, fat and happy on breastmilk alone, no solids yet. I have had some intermittent problems with blocked ducts on left side - always before able to get them resolved with nursing. I often see a correlation between bras and blocked ducts - try to avoid underwires and anything compressive. I am very athletic and struggle to find bras that support me while walking and exercising without compressing. Was taking lecithin for nipple blebs but tapered off a few weeks ago since things had been going well.
On Friday pm i noticed a firm spot on the left side after nursing - probably did not pay enough attention to it. Kept nursing normally. I wore a new nursing sports bra - no wire - for a few hours then took it off in the evening because i was worried about my left side. DD nursed normally and went to bed. Over the evening the breast got more firm and swollen. I tried to pump (Medela PIS) and got very little. I tried heat, compression, no luck. The entire upper half of the breast was hard and getting worse. I slept on & off a couple of hrs then it got too painful to sleep. I tried pumping again - nothing - i woke up DD and she tried valiantly for 1.5 hrs to unblock it with no luck (multiple positions, even dangling the breast over her while on all fours - must have been quite a sight!) I work at a hospital so i went in at 445 am and tried 2 different hospital grade pumps (Ameda and Lactina) - nothing. By this time (about 12 hours into the saga) i am getting VERY worried and am in a lot of pain and the breast is getting quite red. Came back home and got in hot shower and figured i would try nursing again. Squeezed on breast as hard as possible and noticed 1 white bleb on nipple. Took sterile scalpel blade and unroofed the blister - nothing happened except a bit of blood. Squeezed some more and noticed another bleb. Stuck scalpel blade in bleb - and squeezed as hard as possible - plug went flying across the shower and milk came spraying out. Got DD up and nursed then pumped after she was finished. Breast emptied much better but still very red and firmer than normal. Feeling a little crappy (but - up all night and very upset) - worried about mastitis. By a few hrs later redness was streaking toward armpit, so called OB and got dicloxicillin prescription.
Now, after 24h antibiotics and frequent breast emptying and trying to rest (actually took a nap today!!), breast looks better. Nipple remains VERY painful, breast still firmer, pumping less from that side than normal and DD seems to be nursing shorter on that side. The involved breast is my "good" side and normally produces much more than the other side but not now.
I think i am traumatized by the stress of the event and just need some support! Nonbreastfeeding friends and family seem to be silently thinking "why are you putting yourself thru these breastfeeding problems - she's 5 mos old- give it up!!" Clearly i am not of that opinion and will keep on nursing but this was a very stressful event!
anything i can do to prevent this happening again? Obviously i have restarted lecithin and am now afraid to wear that new bra again.
If it happens again, is there anything else i can do, short of sticking sharp surgical implements in my own nipple??
Is it normal for supply to dip after an episode like this / will it come back to normal / how long?
Thanks for listening!!