I saw this image on one of my mom Facebook groups and it’s so true. The first three weeks were so hard for me but after 6 weeks, it definitely started to get easier. Now that we are past the three month mark, I will say that it’s not bad at all. However, breastfeeding is sort of similar to diabetes. Once you think you have things figured out, it likes to throw you a curveball. With diabetes it could be that you have great blood sugars one day and the next day, without changing a thing, have really high blood sugars. With breastfeeding, its thinking that you have gotten over the hard part only to realize you haven’t.
This past week, I experienced a plugged milk duct and let me tell you, it was NOT fun. It started last Saturday night. I fed my son at 4PM then I decided to have two glasses of wine (late birthday celebration). Because I drank, I decided to give him milk that I had previously pumped at his 7PM feeding. However, I didn’t “pump and dump.” By 10PM, I felt that my breast milk had had enough time to process the alcohol (they say 2 hours per drink and it had been 6 hours), so I fed him. By this point, however, my breasts were really engorged from skipping a feeding and not pumping and dumping. I fed him from my right breast (I only do one breast per feeding) but because I was so engorged, I also pumped from my left breast. I only pumped about 1 ounce before giving up (I’m not a fan of pumping).
Then we went to bed. On that night, my little one decided to sleep from 10PM to 6AM. I, however, woke up at 5AM in serious pain. My breasts were so engorged, it was excruciating. I laid in bed for an hour waiting for my son to wake up. During this hour, I got more and more angry with my husband, who was sleeping soundly, enjoying the extra sleep.
My son finally woke up and I fed him and I thought all was well. My left breast stayed engorged that day but I thought it might have something to do with the fact I had drank the night before (like somehow it increased my production).
As the day wore on though, I realized my breast wasn’t actually engorged but might actually have a plugged duct. By the evening, I was in a lot of pain. I didn’t do anything that night because I had never had a plugged milk duct before so I didn’t know if I should do anything different.
I woke up Monday morning still in a lot of pain. I talked to Dr. Google and found some ways to treat a plugged duct. I tried some of the tips but they didn’t alleviate that pain so I called my lactation consultant.
My lactation consultant advised me to exclusively feed on my left breast (the one clogged) and when I would normally feed on my right breast, I should pump that side instead and feed him my left. I also needed to apply heat before each feeding and massage my breast by taking the heal of my palm and pressing down hard starting up near my neck and going all the way down to the nipple, making sure to press hard on the plugged ducts. She also said that I needed to feed and/or pump every three hours until it cleared, including waking up every three hours overnight.
I started to do this Monday afternoon and thank goodness by midnight, my breast was starting to feel better! I still woke up and pumped/fed every three hours and continued this until Tuesday evening but then all was better.
In addition to the pain, I was also pretty emotional. I felt like I had come so far in three months to successfully breastfeed and I thought this plugged duct would ruin my production and my ability to continue breastfeeding. I also thought I had gotten over the painful part of breastfeeding and thought it would be smooth sailing going forward. A plugged duct is definitely not smooth sailing.
I’m not sure what other curve balls I will encounter with breastfeeding, but I survived this episode and now know what to do if I get another plugged duct. I’m so thankful for my lactation consultant because she was so helpful and available and helped me to get through this painful experience.
Also, this past week I breastfed in public (not in my car) for the first time! OK, so it was technically the mother’s room at Babies R Us but I still count that as a win.