Clogged Ducts Suck

BUT you can get through it! I haven’t written about breastfeeding in a while. Especially since I thought it was all smooth-sailing the 2nd time around. And in a lot of ways, it has been. But unexpectedly, when the little guy was almost 6 months old, I started getting recurrent clogged ducts, which is unusual this late in the game. Clogged ducts tend to happen in the first few weeks of breastfeeding when your boobs are trying to figure out how much milk to produce for your baby. Your boobs produce more milk than is being expressed, resulting in a clog. It first happened to me when Gwen was just 2 or 3 weeks old. It’s painful and annoying, but you can usually clear it within a few days if you’re persistent with nursing and/or pumping. And some women never get them, and I hate those women (kidding). But anyway, I think it happened to me this time around because he started getting really inconsistent with his nighttime wakings and feedings around this time. He would go several days in a row sleeping straight through the night, so my boobs thought “Hey, we don’t need to produce as much milk overnight anymore. Cool.” Then he would go several days in a row waking up and needing to eat 2-3 times every night. My boobs got confused. They started producing lots of milk overnight again, then he’d sleep through the night and I’d wake up with a clog.

The first time it happened, I cleared it within a few hours. Hot showers, warm compresses, frequent nursing and some essential oils. Bam. Done. Then, a week later…another clog. This one was stubborn and wouldn’t clear. I even tried something I read online about nursing on all 4’s (because… gravity). It was awkward and uncomfortable, and it didn’t work for me. Eventually this clog turned into mastitis. It was mild, but still not fun, especially when you have to care for 2 children. I took antibiotics for 10 days and thought I was in the clear. Then a week later, another stinking clog. Same boob. Same location on the boob (which is usually the case). I’d had enough. I did more research, and at this point I started searching Google for “recurrent clogs”, instead of just clogs, and came across an idea on Kellymom.com to take Lecithin supplements. “Seems too easy,” I thought. But I was desperate and willing to try anything.  So I consulted my doctor; and she told me it was OK to try.

Now, I should state the obvious.  Correlation is not causation.  My results may not be your results. And if you’re considering trying Lecithin supplements, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s OK for you.  But…

I started taking one 1200mg pill, 3-4 times per day. The clog cleared and I’ve been clog-free ever since. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’ve heard of other moms experiencing the same thing.

I still take them and will continue to do so until I’m done breastfeeding. I don’t have time to deal with clogs and mastitis, so I’m not risking it. I’ve lowered my dosage to twice a day, sometimes only once when I forget. And still, no clogs. Woot. That’s not to say I rely solely on the supplements to avoid clogs. I still make sure he drains each boob when he nurses, has a good latch, etc.

If you suffer from recurrent clogged ducts, and your doc is cool with it; it might be worth a try. I know how painful and frustrating clogs are. I wanted to give up on breastfeeding altogether because of it. But I’m so thankful I found something that works for me so I can continue. Over 7 months now and going strong. I’ve mentioned before that the little guy hasn’t taken to solid foods yet, so he really is relying just on breastmilk for his nutrition. At this point, solid foods are just for fun and experimentation anyway. But still. He’s happy and healthy and growing really well on boob juice alone, despite the challenges we’ve had recently. That’s a really good feeling.

So be encouraged, breastfeeding mamas who face challenges, you are not alone! And there are a lot of resources out there to help you overcome those challenges.