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Thread: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    51

    Default Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    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!

    My questions:
    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!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    522

    Default Re: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    Hi,

    I am sorry to hear about your problems. I had problems with plugged ducts for a couple of weeks and know how painful this can be.

    For me what worked to prevent recurrences was to throw out the offending bras (in my case a couple underwire nursing bras from Mimi maternity) and to take it easier on a daily basis than I thought I should need to. I grumbled plenty about both things at the time since I felt like I was wasting money and time. Now I see that it worked and am glad things didn't get worse.

    My lactation consultant suggested lecithin but I didn't take any--I just upped my yogurt consumption (that has lecithin in it, I think). About treatment--I would drink plenty of water, try to massage the plug out, and nurse, nurse, nurse on that side. And hit the couch the second I started seeing redness on my breast.

    I hope that is helpful and that you get answers to some of the other questions in your post. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    11

    Wink Re: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    I know what you are going through! I have six babies and have nursed them all (still nursing #6). I struggled with plugged ducts and breast infections with the first three children. Because of my struggles I ended those nursing relationships sooner than we wanted. With baby #4 my pediatrician suggested daily Lecithin supplements coupled with making sure I'm drinking 64oz of plain water each day. I take 2 400mg concentrates every night with my prenatal vit. On the rare occasion that I feel a plugged duct -- I increase what I'm taking and take it throughout that day.

    My struggles seemed to come no matter what kind of bra I wore & no matter how often we nursed. My pediatrician explained that (& showed me a study that agreed) Lecithin breaks down fatty substances in the body (which BM can be). Some womens' breast seem to get blocked often regardless of the typical measures taken to avoid it. Lecithin can often help these women when taken regularly.

    Lecithin is a natural substance -- found in foods like eggs. I do not like to taking anything -- but I take Lecithin everyday (& my vitamin) while I'm nursing. Water consumption is also very important (helps keep a good supply too). The combination of both of these things (for women who struggle with PDs) helps keep the milk moving through the breast!

    Since learning about Lecithin -- I have had three very pleasant nursing experiences. I have had a few plugged ducts but they were very easy to ward off -- and I have had one breast infection (I was sick with Strep throat at the time I got it). Plugged ducts are no longer the constant battle that they had been for me.

    Hope this encourages you!

    Blessings --
    Kristin Lewis

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    51

    Default Re: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    Thanks Kristen - it is reassuring to hear about your experience and i think that i am also one of those who will have to take lecithin for the long term. I am still struggling with my supply dip since this adventure as well as significant nipple pain but i think the nipple is getting a bit better. Does anyone know what i should expect with supply? Will it come back up if i just keep to my normal schedule? I am reluctant to add pumping sessions because it hurts a lot with this sore nipple but i will if i have to. DD seemed to nurse on that side better today but i am about 4-5 oz behind normal for the day's pump output and DD is a big eater.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    11

    Default Re: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    Your supply will come back -- it's supply/demand. More time at the breast -- more milk!

    You've been through a lot of stress. Lots of rest, not being stressed, a normal routine, and lots of water... I'd go easy on the pumping because that nipple needs to heal -- pumping may prolong that process?

    Blessings!
    Kristin Lewis

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    24

    Default Re: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    I just recovered from my 6th bout of mastitis - DD is only 20 weeks old! We exclusively pump so I know how much my supply is affected. This time, it took exactly a week to get my supply back to normal (also with adding 2-3 pumping sessions). I'm currently clawing back some of my pumping sessions so I'm not a slave to the pump anymore If you're nursing I would think it might take less time as the baby is much more efficient at emptying the breasts.

    As for the lecithin, I have never heard of that and would love to read up on it - any good website/reading recommendations? At this point, I will try anything to prevent another case of mastitis!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Blocked duct/mastitis/supply: very long

    These are not LLL sources, but here's what my LC suggested i read:
    http://www.drjacknewman.com http://www.kellymom/nutrition/vitamins/lecithin.html
    This was when i just had sore nipples and blebs - thats why i started the lecithin in the first place. I take 4 capsules a day if i can remember. I think there's really no downside to trying it plus it is inexpensive and you can even get it at the grocery store if you have a pharmacy section in your grocery. I think it was a big mistake for me to stop taking it a few weeks ago - i am back on it and hoping it will help prevent another adventure like i had last weekend.
    I think my supply is better today - relief!

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