Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to Get Rid of Clogged Ducts and Prevent Mastitis

Milk. One of the biggest struggles of new moms who choose to breastfeed. There are many posts on how to increase your milk supply, but having too much milk can be just as much of a problem.

In the beginning, I thought I didn't have enough milk because Nicky would constantly cry. So I started drinking teas and gallons of water, eating salmon and oatmeal, and pumping to increase my supply. Now I know that his crying had nothing to do with milk - it's just what newborns do.

However, I managed to increase my supply to as much as 10 oz on each side, and that's after feeding the baby!! While those are some amazing numbers, what wasn't so amazing is how much I had to pump. And the more I pumped the more milk I got. It got to the point that if I was an hour late to my date with Medela, I would start getting lumps in my breasts.

One night, I was so tired that I skipped the midnight pumping and just went to bed. I woke up at 4 am, on fire and shaking. My breast was hurting and was solid as a rock. I was diagnosed with mastitis and spent the next few days in bed on antibiotics, with baby latched on and massaging away.

Two weeks later, I finally started feeling better. However, in a month, the fever and clogged ducts came back. I was in so much pain and I cried for days because I knew I wouldn't be able to go through this again. I wanted to breastfeed, but I didn't want to be constantly on antibiotics and attached to the pump for the fear of getting another clog.

After a lot of research and personal trials and errors, I finally figured out how to fight mastitis.

1. Lecithin. Imagine there was a pill that would prevent clogs from happening. Well, there is one! Lecithin is a dietary supplement that basically prevents fatty tissue from sticking together. One pill a day can be used as a prophylactic against clogged ducts. If you feel one forming already, take three pills to help it resolve.

2. Pump - away. Milk is a supply and demand kind of thing. Your body will make what you express and more. So, don't express more than you need thus creating an oversupply. When you do pump, make sure to take all the parts apart (including valves and membranes!) and wash and dry thoroughly.

3. Feed from different angles. I used to feed only in the cradle hold position. When the clog formed, it appeared on the side of the breast where baby wasn't draining the milk from. So alternate between cradle and football hold to make sure baby gets the milk out throughout the breast. This is where the nursing pillow really comes in handy!

4. Avoid tight clothes and underwire. At least for the first few months, wear nursing bras and loose clothes. If you decide to wear a waist trainer, leave the top few hooks unfastened.

If you already have a clog:

1. Put the baby on the breast. If you have a good latch, baby's suction can be far more powerful than any pump. Contact a lactation consultant if you are having issues with baby draining milk, they can make a world of a difference!
As mentioned above, feed from every angle, including dangle feed (lay your little one on the floor, hunch over the baby on all fours and feed. Sounds ridiculous but works wonders).

2. Heat and cold. Apply heat before feeding, to stimulate let down and cold after to stop more milk from coming in. I used something called Booby tubes which helped a lot.

3. Vibration. You need to break up the clog. If you can't massage it out by hand, try to massage it with something that vibrates, like an electric toothbrush or razor.

4. Kinesiology tape. Athletes use this tape to heal injuries. It lifts the skin slightly, increasing the space below it to increase circulation. When applied on the breast, it does the same with milk circulation. Take small strips of the tape, stretch and apply over the lump away from the nipple (image you are drawing rays of a sun, where you nipple is the sun)

5. If you have a fever, call your OB-GYN immediately! At this point you have not only a clog but also an infection and need an antibiotic. Your doctor will prescribe one that doesn't transfer through breast milk (i.e. dicloxacillin) and thus is safe for your to take while nursing.

Good luck mama, and feel better!!


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