Posts tagged nursing

Breastfeeding Foe’s: Mastitis and Plugged Ducts

PART 1 – Be More Prepared than I was!

First of all, I have so many experiences to share with you on this topic that it was getting WAY too long for one post so I had to split it up (and probably will have many more to come)!  And, before I start, you should know I am a huge fan of breastfeeding!  I think it’s sad that so many moms out there either don’t do it or stop after a short time.  This post is not intended to scare anyone away from breastfeeding but to help you be better prepared for challenges than I was.  I hope this post will help prepare moms-to-be and help those who have had similar troubles to get through them successfully.  I nursed Jack about 26 months (my initial goal was 12 months).  I am now nursing my 2nd baby, Walt, who is 3 months old.

After Jack, my first born, I had 3 uncomfortable and frustrating bouts of what I thought was mastitis.  Breastfeeding was something I knew I wanted to do and would do but I just thought you put baby to breast and voila, thats it.  I didn’t read up on the topic, techniques, didn’t ask anyone for tips or advice on breastfeeding while I was pregnant.   I didn’t know anything about how to hold baby, what engorgement was, mastitis, that it could be challenging.  I think I just thought breastfeeding, you just do it and thats that.  I didn’t expect it to be hard or to run into any problems.

So when Jack was born, I tried to let him nurse right away, which he wasn’t interested in at first but an hour after birth he figured it out.  The first few days were a piece of cake.   It might sound weird but I was excited for my milk to come in.  It was all very intriguing to me, everything that was happening with my body related to pregnancy, birth and now breastfeeding.  It was empowering and amazing to me how my body would produce nourishing food, milk, that my baby would thrive on exclusively for some time and I was eager for it to come in and to nurse my baby boy!  However, when my milk did come in it was chaos!  Jack started becoming partial to the left side and avoided the right like the plague!  We later discovered it was due to his C1 vertebrae being fixed and tissue around it inflamed and it was easily corrected by chiropractic adjustments (by mom and dad).  This lead to engorgement.  All of the sudden my right breast just got huge.  I thought I was going to explode!  It became very painful.  I did have an electric pump and figured, that must be what those things are for!  Pumping gave me some temporary relief.  However I didn’t know anything about pumping either.  I don’t think I completely emptied the breast.  I just continued to pump when I started to get huge and painful again and did that repeatedly (it took a day or 2 to figure out why Jack wouldn’t nurse on my right side and to get it corrected).  The frequent pumping with my electric pump seemed to cause me to just produce more (supply and demand) and I was really getting fed up and could not get things under control for the life of me!  At our postpartum visit with our CHOICE midwives they suggested a hand pump (which they had several available in their awesome resource room) and to have Jack nurse on both sides each feeding and to nurse often.  I WAS only feeding Jack on one side per feeding (don’t know why, I guess I just thought that was how it was done and don’t know where that thought came from) and if he fell asleep for long periods (he only did that the first few days, then I don’t think he slept a full night until 2 yrs old!) I didn’t wake him to nurse.  So I would go sometimes 6+hours before nursing on one side, ya, no wonder I had problems!  Like I said, I knew nothing about techniques or protocol for breastfeeding.  Hint, hint, if you’r pregnant get advice, read, go to La Leche League website to get info BEFORE your baby is born.

After Jack was adjusted and willing to nurse on both sides and once I started nursing on both sides each feeding, nursing about every 2 hours, icing to reduce inflammation, and using the hand pump to relieve pressure if he didn’t empty both sides everything cleared up.  By everything I mean the flu-like symptoms I experienced including: fever, head ache, body ache, and extreme fatigue.  These symptoms came on shortly after the initial major engorgement I experienced.  I was never checked out by a doctor or lactation consultant to determine if it was a plugged duct or mastitis but whatever it was, it was resolved within a week thankfully (no meds required).  I had a similar experience 2 more times while breastfeeding Jack.  Both of which I believe followed weekend trips I made in which I had to bring my pump and not my baby.  I really felt that electric pump caused an increase in demand and therefore supply followed by engorgement and the rest of those “fun” symptoms.  While each episode I experienced was not fun at all, they all did manage to resolve themselves in about a week by nursing often, using the hand pump and icing when my breasts felt hot and sore.  I also did go to a few local La Leche League meetings.  It was nice to be around other nursing moms, many with years of experience.  I enjoyed talking with them and listening to their advice.  The rest of the 26 months of breastfeeding Jack went very smoothly!

Come back soon for Part 2:  The Second Time Around – New Challenges-  I thought it would be easier but new challenges presented themselves.  Come back to learn what they were!

I am also planing more posts on the benefits of breastfeeding, what exactly is mastitis and plugged ducts, natural remedies, and more!  So don’t forget to subscribe so don’t miss a post!

What challenges have you faced while breastfeeding and what did you do?

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