Yesterday I woke up with my left breast being swollen bigger than it’s ever been (bigger even than the week after birth and my milk came in *like whoa*). I latched on my boy and was surprised by some searing pain as he fed ravenously for the first time in 8 hours. When he let go I noticed a little white bump on my nipple and since he deflated the left side some I could feel a big hard painful lump in the underside. I mashed around softly and could feel that lump taking up at least a third of my breast and going all the way back to my chest wall. Commence 6 am freakout! I dealt with double mastitis early after Jeremy was born almost four years ago and I really particularly didn’t want to have to go through that again.
Anyway, Jesse went back to sleep as he always does after gorging himself on his early morning pre-breakfast. I began scouring the Breastfeeding sub-forum on Coastie Chicks to find some answers. It was so bad that I couldn’t even rest my left arm against my body. I had to hold it out to the side a little like a chicken wing. I couldn’t hold Jesse with my left arm (where I usually hold him, since I’m right handed) which was incredibly inconvenient.
Everything I was reading led me to believe it was a plugged duct and that the best thing to do would be to keep feeding him from that side as well as gentle massage and warm compresses before feeding. We did just that. For every time I fed him on the right I put him on the left side twice as often. He was getting frustrated after about five minutes on the left side and wouldn’t feed as long, assuming because the clog was keeping him from getting as much milk as usual from that breast. Since the lump was deep in the left underside, the football hold especially helped because his little chin was pointed toward the lump and basically massaged it as he fed. We don’t normally do it football style, we prefer cross-cradle, so Jesse was kind of confused when I set him up this way a few times throughout the day.
At one point in the early afternoon it got worse because half a days worth of milk was now added behind the clog and I was hurting pretty badly. I took a nice warm shower and rubbed the hell out of that side. The shiatsu masseuse I used to see had nothing on my mad skills yesterday. I was getting in deep, rubbing down to the ribcage!
During his after-dinner feeding around 7:00 I could tell that the lump had shrunk some. Thank goodness! I thought that if I slept lightly I’d be able to keep myself from rolling onto my left side and tomorrow we’d be able to work on it some more. Jesse woke up from his post-dinner cat nap and was starving, so I skipped his bath (which we normally do around then) and fed him from the left again. I can distinctly remember when I felt the clog clear. It was like a second let-down from just the one side (I usually let down on both sides at once no matter which I’m feeding from). Jesse unlatched and gave me this bewildered look, smiled, and I could see all of this extra-thick creamy milk in his mouth. He latched back on and went after that boob like I’d never seen. I was kind of taken aback. I’ve never been “motor-boated” by my son before, it was funny and a little weird. He stretched his neck toward me, mashed my breast with his free hand, and moved his little face back and forth.
When he was done he popped off and laid back on the boppy pillow with this fully satiated grin, milk dribbling from the side of his mouth, and huge round belly straining the snaps of his pajamas. Jason took him to his crib and I started feeling around – the lump was gone! The clog and the pain were both completely relieved! Jason was laughing at me because I was bouncing a little on the bed telling him over and over how “Oh my God, honey, it’s gone!”
Thank you everyone who contributes regularly to the breastfeeding threads on my beloved Coastie Chicks. Special shout-outs to Becca, Sue, Sarah, and Yogini (sorry, I do not know her real name). I figured that if the clog was still giving me issues after a day of working at it that I’d go back and post some questions of my own, but there is already such a wealth of knowledge there that all it took was reading through some existing threads to find the answers I needed. Those ladies are fabulous and wonderful and all the good adjectives that I cannot think of right now because I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude. If I could, I’d send them all some big huge bouquets of flowers: Love you!!
Even though I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting three of the four women I mentioned above, they are all near and dear to my heart because anytime a mom has a breastfeeding question they are always spot-on with their advice. Having knowledgeable people willing to help even though you’ve never met in real life is certainly a Finer Thing!