What does life look like 6 weeks post Masada Sleep School?

Today marks our six week anniversary since “graduating” from the Masada Mother Baby Unit sleep school. Overall, it’s been awesome – although there have definitely been a few challenges. Let’s start with the awesome:

The stuff that has got better

Frankie is well and truly into a routine (which I often manage to stuff up when I try to have a life, but that’s a story for another post). I wrote about her routine here and it has helped infinitely in organising my life around Frankie’s. For example, 9-10am is what I call “the hour of productivity”. Frankie is always asleep at this time which means I can do things like have a phone conference for work, write a proposal for a client, or even have a shower (crazy stuff like that). Then, depending on when she wakes from her first nap, I am given a bit of structure for the rest of the day too through knowing roughly when she will feed/play/sleep.

Me during my "hour of productivity"

Me during my “hour of productivity”

Despite having a bad left boob, I am still, somehow, exclusively breastfeeding. Prior to Masada, this meant being chained to Frankie who was a champion little snacker – feeding every 2-2.5 hours. She now only needs feeding every 3.5-4 hours, which means I can actually leave Frankie for a couple of hours and not worry about her dying of hunger. Amazing.

I have read that there are all sorts of definitions of what “sleeping through the night means” – ranging from sleeping from 7-7, through to sleeping for five hours in a row (which makes no sense to me as a definition as five hours does not maketh a night). Frankie has become an awesome little sleeper at night. She now always goes down without too much of a fuss between 6.30-7pm. We wake her up for a dream feed at 11/11.30pm, and then she is now almost always sleeping through ’til around 6.30 or 7am. This is a VERY different Frankie to the pre-Masada one. Granted, she is six weeks older, but what I love most is the predictability. My husband and I can now do mental stuff like have people over for dinner at 7pm and have uninterrupted conversation.

Nap time

Nap time

I am no longer a completely sleep deprived wreck. I am just a slightly sleep deprived one. Because Frankie sleeps in such big chunks at night, that means I can too. I can also nap during the day when Frankie naps (and boy do I love napping). Having said that, I am often plagued by insomnia (again, a story for another day) so while in theory I am getting massive chunks in bed with my eyes shut, it doesn’t always equate to sleep. But still, when I can kick the insomnia, I look forward to feeling more normal again…

The stuff that has NOT got better

Recurrent Mastitis. Although I did see the amazing lactation consultant Sue Shaw a couple of days ago and I think I may have solved that problem. Fingers crossed. I am one week free of blocked boobs – a record for me for the past month.

We can’t do the side pat anymore! Now – this is a BIG BUMMER. A week after Masada, Frankie was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Great that it was picked up early, but not great for using the Masada Pat Pat. Because Frankie is wearing a Pavlik Harness 23.5 hours a day, we are not allowed to turn her on her side! I called up Masada for some advice, and they said to just pat her on her chest and at the front of the nappy. However, this makes her MORE unsettled. She screams like we have never heard her scream before. I called up Masada again to get more advice, but no one has returned my call…very frustrating. So what this means in practice is if Frankie is unsettled, we don’t really have many tricks up our sleeve. Luckily she has been really great at self settling since Masada, but we still have grizzle hour at about 5pm every night, and we normally just give in and get her up early.

Frankie in her Pavlik harness. No more side patting for us :(

Frankie in her Pavlik harness. No more side patting for us 😦

For those who have been playing along at home, I’d love to hear how you are tracking. And if you are a fellow Masada graduate, I’d love to hear how things are going for you!

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My bad boob – and my top ten tips for dealing with blocked up breasts

For the last four weeks, I have been plagued with blocked ducts and mastitis. My left one is the faulty boob. It’s always been the poorer cousin to Righty. Slower milk flow, frustrates the hell out of Frankie. And it is a sucker for getting blocked up.

It all started with sleep school. While sleep school was brilliant for helping my daughter learn to be a better sleeper, it was bad for my boobs. My boobs went from feeding Frankie every 2-2.5 hours, to only feeding once every four hours. My left boob wasn’t happy about this at all and decided to go and get all blocked up and ouchy. I went to my GP, thinking that the nipple thrush I had had early on in my breastfeeding days had come back, but no, this time it was the dreaded mastitis.

Frankie still prefers my faulty left boob to pumpkin.

Frankie still prefers my faulty left boob to pumpkin.

Then, the day after this diagnosis, we saw Frankie’s paediatrician. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Frankie has always been on the lighter side of the scale, and during her week at Masada, she had only put on 80g. Our MCHN was worried so I asked our paed to weigh Frankie. Turns out she had only put on 50g in the week just gone. Our paed decided that it must be my milk supply that was the problem so he prescribed me a course of Motilium – a drug designed to increase milk supply. I started taking it and three days later, Hello Mastitis! Then, a week after this weigh in, we take Frankie back to our MCHN and guess what? Frankie had put on 450g in one week – which was clearly ridiculous being an exclusively breast fed baby. So we concluded that our paed clearly thought calibrating his scales was overrated, and that Frankie’s weight gain was actually going well. And now my boobs had no idea what was going on because apparently there was no problem with milk supply. I came off the Motilium, but my boobs took a couple of weeks to get the message to stop producing so much milk. And in those couple of weeks, Mastitis decided to rear its lumpy, painful head a couple more times.

The wonderful husband who does the middle of the night microwave heat pack runs.

The wonderful husband who does the middle of the night microwave heat pack runs.

But the good news is, I feel like I have become quite the expert in how to deal with blocked up boobs. So for any breastfeeding mums who have been unlucky enough to have problems such as mine, here are my top ten tips:

1. Apply heat before every single feed – even at 3am when the last thing you feel like doing is going to the microwave to heat up a heat pack. This helps loosen up the blocked duct and get things flowing. My husband has been brilliant at doing the middle of the night microwave run.
2. Apply cool packs after every feed. This helps reduce inflammation.
3. Take the maximum dose of Nurofen – this will also help reduce inflammation and help reduce pain too.
4. Take 4 x 1200 milligrams of Lecithin every day. You can read more about it here but a lot of people swear by it to help oil up the milk ducts.
5. If you have a massive oversupply of milk, Sage tea works wonders to get things back to normal. Just don’t take too much otherwise you could dry up your supply completely. You can read more about dosage here.
6. Get yourself some ultrasound treatment. This will help break up the blockage. Make sure you feed your bub within 30 minutes of receiving the treatment to get the full benefits from it. The physios here really know their stuff.
7. Try to position bub’s chin in the direction of the lump. This often requires some tricky and very uncomfortable positioning work – but trust me, it’s worth it.
8. Rest. Easier said than done. I found that this was the hardest thing to do. Whenever I came down with mastitis, I would try to take at least one nap during the day, but when I was “cured”, I would go back to trying to do a million things every hour and bam – I’d be back in mastitis hell.
9. Sleep on your back. Avoid tummy sleeping like the plague. Man, I miss sleeping on my tummy!
10. If all else fails, see a lactation consultant. Sue Shaw is amazing – I saw her early on in my breastfeeding days and she is not only super compassionate, but she really knows her stuff.

Have you had blocked boobs? I’d love to hear about what worked for you.