My right breast: dealing with blocked ducts

Tuesday morning I woke up with one painful, engorged breast: the right one.

That boob has for a long while been lagging in milk production. Anya had a preference for the left breast for a while there, in the early days and the right one never quite caught up… until now. Recently I have been trying to put Anya on the right side wherever possible to try and balance out the milk production on both breasts again. I guess it is working.

So, Tuesday, the right boobie was all hard and tender. I didn’t think much of it. K took Anya when she woke up at 6am so I could stay in bed for another couple of hours. When she came back I put her on my right breast (to relieve the pressure) and we both fell asleep.

When I woke up, I realised it was still engorged. Clearly Anya had just suckled herself to sleep but hadn’t really fed from that side at all, so the pain was still there. Aaarrgh. I spent the next 30 minutes or so doing ‘dangle feeds’ – where you literally get on all fours and dangle your breast into baby’s mouth. Sounds hilarious and I’d probably be laughing too, were it not for the fear of obstructed ducts and mastitis!

In that crazy-pose, the gravity helps the milk move down, and you can position the baby’s chin so that it is pointing toward the hard, sore ‘cake’ (as they call it) and that drains the milk from that area, specifically. I alternated those feeds with warm compresses on my breast. I couldn’t believe I had come this far into breastfeeding (5.5 months) without blocked ducts and with no mastitis only to fall prey to it now!!

After a few attempts, with me massaging and squeezing the breast, finally Anya was able to get enough suction to get some milk out and slowly the breast started to get drained, though hard areas remained.

Later that day, coincidentally, I was talking to some moms and one of them said she had ‘cake breasts’, with large hard areas due to blocked ducts and we got to talking and someone said lecithin really helps. Hah! I have been taking lecithin all through breastfeeding (in fact I have been taking it for years for brain function and fat utilisation). I just ran out about 5 days ago and hadn’t gotten round to replacing it yet!

Perhaps that is why I haven’t had more issues with blocked ducts and mastitis (an infection of the breast that comes from excess, blocked milk). Maybe I have been lucky, maybe it is in the genes, somehow, good breastfeeding. And of course the fact that I feed on-demand and straight from the breast (never confusing the balance of milk supply and demand by introducing a pump) also helps… but maybe lecithin has been my secret helper, all along. Who knew?

So, the good news is, by the end of the day I had worked through all those hard lumps in my right breast. And now it would seem I have all but equalised production in both breasts – as witnessed by the fact that they look pretty much the same size again for the first time in months. Horrah! I am balanced once more.

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When the sucking is good

A few weeks back (at around three months), Anya suddenly took a leap in her ability to breastfeed at speed. She became a much more efficient little sucker so that now she can empty one breast in about five minutes when it used to take close to, oh, forever (fine, okay, about 45 minutes then she’d drift off and… yeah, no: forever)!

Hoorah, this is great for me (and her). She no longer lives permanently attached to my breast. We have more time in our day, now. Phew.

in praise of breasts

Breasts – aren’t they great?! (no, not in that way, boys!)

I have had breasts for so many years and they just stood there, doing not very much at all, a bit of entertainment, that is all… and now, suddenly, when I needed them, they lept into action producing milk. This is all the more astonishing to me because I have always been so flat chested. Now it turns out I am actually over producing milk. It is great to know they are small but powerful!