Two nights ago, it was just me and Chris with the baby at home. Usually when it’s just Chris and me, I will do the baby’s last feed of the night at around 10 PM. Afterwards, I will do my last pump for the night and go to sleep for approximately three hours. Then, I’ll wake up around 3 AM to do my middle of the night pump. However, I have noticed that the baby tends to be a little bit more feisty on the nights when I have her. That night, she had about 3/4 of her bottle when she started falling asleep. I figured that this was a sign that she was full, so I burped her, held her upright for an additional 10 minutes, and then started to swaddle her to bring her to her bassinet. She was totally fine throughout this entire process… Until I started swaddling her, and she started crying for more food. So I said OK, I can give you more food. I fed her about 20 mL more breastmilk, and then, she started falling asleep yet again. This time, I went through the exact same process as I did above, and then at the exact point when I started swaddling her, she started crying… again. I was like, seriously?! You need to go to bed and make up your mind and stop grazing! This is your last meal of the night, and it is not a buffet spread that you can just graze at and pick at little bit of foods with on tiny toothpicks!
I gave her about 10 mL more breastmilk until she started falling asleep again. Then, for the third time, I started swaddling her, and she started crying. This is when my patience really wore thin. I continued swaddling her and then picked her up, rocked her, and sang her a song. I told her that this time, she was not getting any more food, and I did not care how much she was going to cry. I needed to pump, and then I needed to go to sleep. She needed to sleep right then and there.
She eventually complied and started falling asleep. I put her in her bassinet and immediately went to set up my pump. I did my last evening pump, and then I went to sleep. I looked at the clock, and it was just a couple minutes past midnight. That was so frustrating. I needed to wake up in three hours to do my middle of the night pump, and the thought made me miserable. I told myself OK, maybe I’ll give myself an extra hour of sleep and get up to pump at 4am. One additional hour of sleep felt very nice and luxurious, and I was going to give it to myself.
Well, I woke up after my alarm went off, and Chris asked if I was going to get up to pump. He was up waiting for the baby to stir so that she could have her middle of the night feed. I immediately felt a weird lumpy sensation in my right breast, in addition to the same tingly sensation on both my boobs, telling me I needed to pump ASAP or risk engorgement. I started massaging both of my breasts as I normally do before a pump, but I noticed that there were two lumps on the top of my right breast… and I was not happy. Seriously? I gave myself one extra hour of sleep, just four consecutive hours, and my punishment is milk duct clogs??
I went to do my pump and got a good amount of milk, more than I normally do around this time of night. I actively massaged out both lumps to see if I could loosen them. One of them seemed to have gone away, but one of them still remained. It was strange that my milk output was higher than usual despite having these lumps, because most of the time when you have clogs, they actually block the milk from flowing. That ends up reducing your output from what you normally get. When I finished my pump, I went back to sleep and woke up again in about three hours to do my first morning pump. And this was when I realized that the clog was not going away unless I manually got rid of it: my right breast produced just half of what my left breast produced this time. The unevenness in both of the bottles that I was pumping really unnerved to me. I knew I had to get this clog out, and get it out ASAP.
I went up to the hot tub on the roof and actively massaged the clog. I used the Haakaa and Epsom salt hack with warm water, and soaked my nipple in it about four times throughout the day. I also applied my Theragun on the clog and pushed it down towards towards my nipple. I made sure to be prepared, as I put a bottle under my nipple, and thankfully I did: milk sprayed everywhere when I did this, and I even got it all over my shirt. I am stingy with breastmilk as an under supplier, and there was no way that I was just going to let the milk spray everywhere and lose it if I could control it. I tried massaging the clog out in the shower, and I also noticed milk spraying. I took sunflower lecithin pills throughout the day, which are supposed to loosen fatty milk and prevent clogged ducts.
Finally that evening, I did more Theragun massage, as painful as that was, and did a last Haakaa and Epsom salt nipple soak for the night. this resulted in the clog finally loosening in a way that looked promising: in the Epsom salt soak, which was colored purple because of the lavender in the Epsom salt mixture, I saw a big, slow gush of white fluid in the Haakaa breast pump that eventually spilled out. While it made me sad to lose this milk, it made me really happy to actually see this Haakaa hack in action and actually working. I continued to massage the clog and gradually felt that it was getting smaller and flatter. Then, I thought that it would be a good measure to get into another hot shower, use a hot wet hand towel, and continue to apply pressure to ensure that the clog was gone while bending over to let gravity help me. I used the heel of my hand as my friend suggested and more milk sprayed out. Did I finally get it all?
I did my 8:30 PM pump, and my right breast produced just over 10 mL… That was miserable to see. And unfortunately, I did not see milk spraying out of the milk ducts that I know this clog is associated with on the top of my breast. I didn’t think the clog was fully out. When I massaged the top part of my breast, I still felt a lump, though it was much flatter and smaller than it was before. However, it looked like my left breast wanted to over compensate for my right breast, and it actually produced the difference of what I normally produce for both breasts during this evening pump, which made me a little happy.
This morning, I took another hot shower after the gym and used the hot towel, the power of the heel of my hand, and bent over to get the clog out further. And this time, there was no doubt about it: The milk just gushed out of my right nipple. It started as long, fast sprays, and then it progressed into huge gushes of milk. I felt one part relief and one part sadness… I felt relief knowing that I was actually making progress to get rid of the clog, but I felt really sad because I was literally seeing my precious breast milk going down the drain and ultimately getting wasted.
The day before, I had finally, in the last 12 weeks, reached over 20 ounces of breast milk output in a single day. I was proud of myself and my progress, as I had worked so hard to get my milk supply up. But then, as though to punish me and laugh at me, my body gave me a clog the day after. What the actual fuck?! It was like mother nature playing some cruel trick on me.
My mom friend told me that my baby would be able to help me get my clog out, as her baby had always helped her get her clogs out. They always say that a breast pump is never as efficient as a baby at the breast. Well, that is having the assumption that your baby is actually an efficient eater. Well, I knew that that was not going to be the case for me because my baby was not an efficient eater at the boob. And my suspicions were correct: when I placed her on the right side at my breast, she lasted about seven minutes tops before she started wailing loudly. And then this morning, she lasted just four minutes and kept on unlatching and cried yet again. This baby was not going to help me unclog myself at all… I can only hope that this laziness and weakness is not indicative of the person she will grow up to be.
The morale of the story is: take sunflower lecithin pills to prevent clogs. Don’t sleep too long between pumps otherwise your body will punish you. Don’t get too excited about your increased milk supply because your body may come back and bite you in the ass… or in my case, in the boob. MILK CLOGS HURT.