Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Dreaded Plugged Duct

As my faithful readers know, I did a lot of reading on breastfeeding while pregnant. I feel it's something important for both my baby's and my own health. So honestly, the latching problem Em and I are (still) having took me by surprise. I had been feeling discouraged - it seemed silly for me to be so often literally pumping and feeding her from a tube at the same time.

Last Wednesday night, DH had been feeding her or playing with her in the living room as I was getting ready for bed. For some reason, out of the blue, he brought her to me in bed and asked me to try a different position to get her to latch (I say for some reason but I think it's because as much as he enjoys feeding Em, he has seen how discouraged I have been by the problem we've been having, and he wants to help fix it). It was a goofy one, not one of the Four Positions From Which One Breastfeeds, and she didn't latch. But I sat up and tried the cradle hold, and for the first time in ages, she really latched on and sucked for awhile without the nipple shield - a few minutes at any rate.

I only mention this in my post on my plugged duct, because this brief bit of success made what happened the next day - well, I went through a bunch of words, tolerable, less discouraging, a few others - and really, the pain wasn't tolerable, I was still very discouraged - at any rate, I think the success, small as it was, sustained me.

Thursday morning around 3 am, I was having a dream where I was a passenger in a small car being driven by someone else - I can't remember who it was. Em was in the back seat and it had snowed heavily. We were leaving someone's house and the driver backed out of a parking spot onto a very steep and snow covered driveway. They braked hard and we skidded, though the driver more or less maintained control of the car. I clutched my chest, at first in fear of an accident - I remember the driver making fun of me for doing so - but then I realized I was having intense pain in my breasts. I started to explain this to the driver, and then I woke up, and realized the pain was real.

I got up and started pumping. My right breast quickly deflated and started feeling normal again. My left breast, however, continued to ache and when I massaged it a bit, I noticed I had dense area in the top half which was warmer than normal, very painful and swollen. I thought oh, I've read about this! It's a plugged duct.

I searched the Interwebs for confirmation and found great information on the Kellymom web site. Sure enough, that's what it sounded like I had going on. I chose to treat it with:
  • rest
  • ibuprofen
  • massage (ouch! can we get a bugger that hurts!)
  • warm compress
  • frequent draining of the breasts through nursing and pumping
  • more rest
Really. I don't think I've ever napped so much in my life. It was awesome, actually.

I called the lactation consultant I'd been helped by before to confirm my self diagnosis and she agreed with me. She also suggested cold compresses after nursing/pumping to both help reduce the pain and the flow of fluids to the area, which I inferred then might loosen the plug. I didn't do that, but it sounded like a good idea.

By 3 pm Thursday, the lump was smaller and less painful. By 7 pm, the lump was gone and the left breast was still sensitive but not achingly don't even think about touching me painful. I'm surprised at how quickly it went away, since the pain was so intense - I was expecting it to drag on for some reason.

Because I'm mostly pumping, I can get pretty quantitative about how much milk each breast is producing. My left breast was producing much less than my right breast before the plugged duct, and continues to be the slacker boob now. Hoping it picks up...

I've read that some women take a plugged duct as a sign that they're over-extended and they need to rest or cut back on what they're doing. I'm a little worried about what that means for me when I go back to work, but I hope I can find a balance that will work for Em, me and our ducts...

1 comment:

Melodie said...

Ah. Welcome to the elite breastfeeding moms club. I'm glad it cleared up quickly for you. Plugged ducts usually do. I'm glad you didn't get full blown mastistis. I have never had it but it does and will come on fast. Just watch for the flu-like symptoms. But you did all the right things. Yay!