I hear many women describe themselves as breastfeeding “survivors,” bearing the emotional and psychological scars of poor latches, aching breasts, bleeding and scabbing, mastitis, thrush, low milk supply, and the like.
To date, I have had a pretty easy experience — Avery is a smart cookie and figured out how to latch well before we even left the hospital. I was a little sore the first couple of days, but liberal use of lanolin quickly resolved it before the first week was out. I’ve done some combat with engorgement and an overabundant milk supply, but I’ll take that over the alternative any day — at least I know she’s getting enough food.
But then yesterday, I had my first experience with a plugged duct.
And now I understand.
It hurt like holy hell.
We’re talking couldn’t hold the baby against my chest withough searing pain kind of hurt. Couldn’t sleep hurt. Gripping Steve’s hand and crying while nursing kind of hurt.
Thankfully, Cheryl Heymans, a lactation consultant I found through Special Addition, was able to help me out. Extra nursing finally finally finally got the milk through, but wow. I am still going through the regimine to make sure the inflamation goes down enough that it won’t come right back.
In case you ever need it, here’s the advice I received:
- Ibuprofen, a hefty dose (she told me to use whatever I had left from the hospital) consistently.
- Phytolacca (avaliable at People’s Pharmacy here in town) — the pharmacist said to take 3-5 pellets under the tongue, every ten minutes the first half hour, every hour until the problem calms down, and then every three hours from there.
- Nurse nurse nurse, and pump if the milk doesn’t start moving.
- Use cold compresses after nursing to help with the swelling.
- Epsom salt bath for the affected side, about 20 minutes with a handful of salts, as hot as you can stand.
- Take extra vitamin C and Zinc for a few days to boost your immune system and avoid infection.
- Rest, chill, and drink lots of fluids.
May you never need to know it.
So all the nursing warriors out there, I tip my hat to you. One skirmish was enough for me. I hope I don’t have to do another tour of duty. Like ever.