I think I have a plugged duct! (did you solve the puzzle?…pretty clever, eh?…thought it was more appropriate than alternative images).
Like I said before, I have had the pleasure of breastfeeding my daughter for the past 9 months. For the most part we have been smooth sailing. Until now…
I was nursing Harper to bed the other night and when I got up I felt a large, hard rod in my right breast. I had just nursed on that side so I was surprised at what seemed to be engorgement. How could I still have this much milk left if I just nursed her? And then it dawned on me…I think I have a plugged duct!
I wasn’t caught too off guard, thank God. Being involved in La Leche League, mommy groups, postpartum yoga, I have heard my fair share of stories from my friends. And luckily, all of them were successful in working through it. But when it happens to you, it’s a different story. I immediately started running through all of the remedies in my head. The first thing that popped into my mind was to take a warm shower. While I was in the shower I massaged over the affected area in the direction of the nipple. I did this for about 3-5 minutes until, bam! I was able to see a little tiny particle shoot out of my nipple and then a constant stream of milk followed. I stood in the shower for another 5-10 minutes, hand expressing until I felt that I had completely emptied the breast. When I got out of the shower I decided to pump to make sure I had gotten every last drop. I had a hard time sleeping that night because I was scared that it would come back. But luckily, when I woke up in the morning, everything was back to normal.
The silver lining in this little episode was an incident I remember when I was still pregnant. My husband and I went to buy some maternity bras one evening. The lady who helped us was talking about the different features of the bras and why certain ones would work best. At one point, she mentioned that this particular bra was her favorite because it did not interfere with the ducts. Freddie was tickled by this because I don’t think he had ever heard that word before. And from then on would always ask me how my ducts were feeling.
I am grateful I was able to cut this thing off at the pass. However, in the case that this would have continued I am glad to have a tool box full of little tricks. Here is a short list of things you can try if you find you have a plugged duct.
1. Feed from all angles. This will help to ensure you have emptied the entire breast. Try lying down on your side, hovering over the baby, having baby lie on your chest.
2. Massage the breast while you are feeding, working toward the direction of the nipple.
3. In addition to warm showers, warm compresses can be very helpful as well, especially before nursing.
4. My close friend prescribes a paste made of goldenseal and almond oil to be applied to the affected breast and then removed. This should be repeated several times a day.
If you happen to have any remedies that are not mentioned that you have tried I would love to hear about them. It’s always best to get first hand experience.
For all those nursing moms out there, stay hydrated, stay rested and good luck with your ducts!