I get frequent blocked ducts and mastitis
I mean I don’t want to brag but I’m really skilled at getting recurrent blocked ducts and mastitis. I could win medals. It sucks but it means I know a lot about dealing with them and hopefully I have some handy tips of how to treat blocked ducts and mastitis.
I nursed my son for 2.5 years and I’ve been nursing my daughter for almost a year now. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve had blocked ducts. It’s possibly over a hundred now and I’ve had mastitis 8 times. Once my partner had to take the day of work to help me because of it and it involved one of the best autocorrect fails ever. He texted his team to say he would be ‘taking a holiday because his girlfriend has mass tits’. Obviously all the blokes came back saying they would take the day off for that too – so embarrassing!!
The slightest thing causes blocked ducts for me, especially in my right boob, or as its affectionately known around these parts, the mega boob. Right now mega boob is painfully blocked again because my daughter has a cold and didn’t feed as much last night and I’m run down because I only got an hours sleep because of said baby having a cold.
Online advice recommendations
There is a ton of advice online for dealing with this so I’m not going to go into it in depth, I’m just going to share my own personal tricks for dealing with it. Firstly, as quick guide I follow kellymom’s advice. As well as Dr Jack Newman’s advice in chapter 11 ‘sore breasts’ of his Guide to Breastfeeding. These two guides combined have never served me wrong.
Things I’ve tried
When you have a stubborn block that the baby can’t drain you will read and try all kinds of crazy shit to get that sucker out. We’ve definitely considered getting papa ginge to try drain it before in desperation but he wouldn’t take one for the team. I’ve tried that almost medieval method where you use a comb over the breast in the shower. It did nothing for me and I’m not sure it’s particularly sane. Same goes for using an electric toothbrush on it. I used to fill a disposable nappy with hot water and put it over the area for while before expressing. The disposable nappy is a great trick as it stays warm for ages and doesn’t get you wet but still I had limited results with this method.
My top trick
The most successful method, that has worked for me time and time again, I didn’t actually read about anywhere but found just by trial, error and desperation. I’m claiming this method now and calling it the nomipalony method. This is the best thing I’ve found that works. It’s definitely worth a try if you are struggling with a stubborn blocked duct or mastitis. Run yourself a nice deep bath and lay in it for a bit and chill. Then once you are warmed through and relaxed, you manually hand express the boob while it is fully submerged under the hot water. You need to know how to hand express to do this properly so have a look at some guides or videos online if you don’t know how. I work my way around the areola as if it’s a clock, making sure I try and get the milk coming from all the ducts until it feels like I’ve done as much as I can. You can also do compression massage on the lump while you are doing this for added effectiveness. The heat really helps the block to come through and hand expressing, if you are doing it right, is much gentler than a breast pump. If it still feels blocked I might immediately then put the baby on again as soon as I get out the bath. It’s also winning because you get to take a bath but you do need someone around to watch the littles because it can take a bit of time to do this. Definitely try prioritise it if you can because it does work. Or at least it does for me – if it works for you too please let me know! It may seem a bit painful and red after this even if it has worked, it can take a few days or so for it to die down fully but it should be improving within 24-48 hours, even if it’s slow improvement.
Dr Jack Newman is a legend
I’ve been struggling with this issue since 2012 and shout out to the excellent Dr Jack Newman and his team, who first gave me hope for getting through it back in April 2012 when I was stuck in a 4 month constant blocked duct/mastitis/milk bleb vicious cycle. I desperately needed help and was getting none from the British healthcare system who at every turn either didn’t know what I was dealing with or just told me to switch to formula. I wanted to continue, I just needed help. It was frustrating and exhausting but Dr Newman replied to a desperate email from me one Sunday night, straight after I sent it, with a lot of helpful advice. We need more Jack Newmans. Especially in Britain. Hell more IBCLCs would be a big improvement. We have only 2 in the North East for a population of 2.61 million. Seems reasonable…
Anyway, Newman said something to me which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time and if you are in the throes of a hideous cycle of doom then you may need to hear it too. He said, ‘Remember however, that recurrent blocked ducts/mastitis often, usually, in fact, become much less frequent and even stop with time’. Before he said this I had kinda lost hope, thinking it would never get better but it did. I got out of the cycle I thought I was stuck in. I still get them more often than I should but not as extreme as at that time. If I can get through it and go on to nurse for 3.5 years with less instances then you can too. Hang in there sister, you’ve got this!