Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quack! I've got a clogged duct

Monday, I was in a foul mood. My husband commented that we hadn't hugged or kissed the entire day, which didn't have the desired effect (Oh honey, hug, hug, kiss, kiss), but only added to my ire. I had a nasty stomach ache (source unknown), but even worse, I was suffering the most painful clogged duct in my left breast. Men can't even begin to relate to this. It was excruciating to pick up a wriggly infant, who would inevitably elbow me in the tit, let alone think about a cuddly hug with Dan. This marked probably my 10th bout with a rock hard breast, that literally feels like someone punched you, and then grabbed your nipple and twisted it completely around for extra effect. I have never had the mother of all pains - mastitis, but have to believe that this is a close second, without the fever and puking.

This problem has become a more frequent ailment within the last 3 months, and I am at a loss as to why this keeps happening. On our December trip, I got it twice. I spent one night in Argentina taking hot showers, putting boiling hot washcloth compresses on my breast and kneading myself like dough until 2AM. In addition, I did my damnedest to entice Stella to nurse, a sight that would be horrific to anyone that did not know what was going on. I swear that I exposed my breast, hung it all out, and chased her around the room with my barely swaying pendulum, literally trying to stuff my nipple in her face. I was nearly sobbing as I begged, "Please, please, suck!" Of course, one of the reasons that a person supposedly gets a clogged duct is because the milk is not emptying out of their boob, and it just pools up, swells, and eventually starts to thicken and dry out, lodging itself in your duct and preventing flow. Obviously, Stella was not hungry enough for 'milkie' and I was over producing. My friend lent me her antique glass pump that probably looks a lot like a gimmicky penis enlarger, and I went to town. Nada. Not a drop.
I have found that the only thing that seems to work for alleviating my pain is a slightly scary ritual with a needle. During one of my previous duct afflictions, I searched frantically on the Internet for advise. I ended up finding a chat thread where all the mom's were talking about a mysterious white dot. It seems that if none of the above works, all the massage and manipulation of your breast eventually yields a tiny white dot on your nipple. This is apparently the duct that is clogged, and if you squeeze hard enough, the dam could break and burst through this opening. Squeeze really hard? Mother of god! - you have got to be kidding. Many of the mother's suggested just taking a needle to the spot and poking your own hole of freedom. Believe me, when you get to the point of sticking a needle in your nipple, the pain and frustration is so advanced that it does not hurt at all. Voila! This usually does the trick, and a breast that wouldn't release any milk before starts to gush, or drip... and it's tinged pink...with blood.

My problem is I'm really sick of this cycle (duh), and would like to prevent the duct from becoming clogged in the first place. I don't know what to think of this all. Should I see this as a sign that my daughter wants to wean herself? Or, does she just need a lot less milk now that she eats a lot, and does my body need to figure out the correct supply required? These experiences make me very fearful about the pain that comes with an end to breast-feeding, and I don't think I'm ready. I know that I am already a bit of an anomaly, since I have nursed Stella exclusively (no formula) since birth, and she is almost 13 months. I used to claim it is so easy, but with these past episodes it really isn't. If there are any mothers out there who have like stories or suggestions, I'd greatly appreciate the input. I'm feeling a little desperate.

Photo at Red Frog Beach in Bocas Del Toro, Panama


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah,

Let me tell you my story:
I am in France, and i have been breastfeeding Adrian for 3 months (not enjoying it in particular)and my mom tells me: Go and see your friends I will give Adrian a bottle for once. I go and see my friends, feels so much forgotten freedom that I decide : That's it I am done breastfeeding and I stop breastfeeding....This is without knowing what was to come next.....The following day, my mother had invited the whole family for lunch, 6 courses meal + dessert. i can feel my breast getting harder and harder, so hard that after lunch I go to the bedroom ask Mick to come with me and explain to him with tears in my eyes that i am in awful pain and that he has to help me suck my breast. Mick wants to be helpful and try to suck my breast a little until he tells me he cannot do it. He is so full with that 6 courses meal that he feels heis going to puck. I was suffering so much he took me to the hospital. The male doctor pressed every way possible on my breast so hard I will never forget that strong pain as strong as giving birth. He wanted to make sure I had no infection. He gave me some pills and after 2 days I was done with the pain as well as breastfeeding and never went back to it as you know!

6:08 PM  
Blogger mrsgreen said...

Fab, You seriously have me laughing with that story. I too have begged Dan to try and suck with no success, that's how desperate we become! If these kind of problems were happening during the beginning of my nursing experience with Stella, I might have quit earlier.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Rein Morgen said...

Oh girl, I have had mastitis, four times, maybe three. Twice my breast swelled to honeydew size and turned purplish black! I ended up on antibiotics for those two times. I kept nursing. Painful as it had been, I have never given any of my three kiddos a bottle of formula. I pumped breast milk for Morgen. That's as close to non breast feeding as I got! Hang in there. Stella probably is weaning herself. Morgen did the same. She discovered table food and guacamole and never wanted the breast again. Tyler I weaned at 15 months because I was so deathly ill with being in my first trimester with Morgen. Nothing like puking and nursing. LOL Takoda I weaned just before his second bday. So I am not even a year off of the boobie bar being closed. He still even asks for it, but I tell him it is closed. The first few nights were rough, but then he was over it. If Stella is not interested, let her wean. Snuggling is still all good without her attached. You don't want to become her 5'3" pacifier. As far as the mastitis, if you don't want to do antibiotics, keep the hot compresses on it. It might take a weak. I wouldn't do the needles. The risk of infection is too great. Take some Tylenol for the pain. I wouldn't ask Dan to help. LOL, mastitis can be caused by lazy latching too. Since he doesn't know how to correctly latch, it could only intensify the infection for you. I will say 24hrs. of antibiotics make all good again:) Of course you must take them for 10-14 days, but after 24hrs. the pain subsides. Good luck! Don't know if I helped any, but I can at least sympathize with you.

8:45 PM  

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