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.

Advertisements