My So-Clogged Life

So here I am. Another day. Another clogged milk duct to ruin it.

I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about my duct probs before, but alas, here I go again. I had one last week on my left side, and this week it’s on my right. I just can’t win!

Recently, each one happened after my almost 10 month old slept through the night. Though I’d REALLY love to celebrate these achievements, I can’t, because I’m frustrated and in pain. I want nothing more than for my son to consistently sleep through the night, but him doing so only means one thing. Clogged mama.

I’m hoping this will change if/when he routinely sleeps through the night. Maybe my boobs will catch on. So far he only does it sporadically, maybe a couple nights a week. I’m trying to start the weaning process now, because I only plan on breast feeding until my son is a year old. I might consider going longer, or starting to wean later, if it weren’t for the constant clogged ducts! It’s SO FRUSTRATING! Every time I get one I want to quit BFing then and there.

There was a glorious 2 month stint of time where I didn’t get a single one. Not sure what was going on there, but it was amazing. Now I’m back to the every week or, if I’m lucky, every other week routine.

I wish there was a quick cure for the dreaded clog, but I have yet to find one. I know, I’m supposed to nurse nurse nurse! And apply heat and rest. But how am I supposed to do that at work? I can’t exactly bring my baby to work and attach him to my boob all day. Nor is it feasible to pump all day long until the clog releases (side note: I think pumping is why I get them so often).

Here’s what I usually do to help (with nursing when at home):

  1. Rig up an Indiana Jones heating pad at work using a small plastic Ziploc, a paper towel, and water. Put it in the micro of the community kitchen (discretely so no one asks wth I’m doing) for 15 secs to get maybe 15 min of heat therapy (again, discretely place this in my shirt so no one knows it’s there/wth I’m doing with a bag in my shirt). Then try to pump as much as I can, usually once or twice.
  2. Take a HOT (like, hot as I can stand) bath, while lying on my belly and massaging, with the hope that gravity plays a role in this.

  3. Hand pump in the tub.

  4. Drink pineapple juice (read this on Pinterest!). This worked once, but maybe that was just a fluke.

  5. Cry and yell and throw my pump parts across the room because this damn clog is just too stubborn and my boob hates me!!!!

  6. Go to bed.

  7. Repeat until it miraculously goes away.

They usually last at least a couple of days, and I’m pretty sure the frustration/worry I feel when they come on does not make them go away any quicker. Luckily, thankfully, somehow I’ve never gotten mastitis. At least I have that going for me and my spiteful boobs.

“Oh, you got a full night of sleep?” CLOG!

“What’s that? You wore a bra that actually had some support?” CLOG!!

“It’s been a full week since you were plugged up? We can’t have that!” CLOG! CLOG! CLOG!

So this is my life. I truly enjoy breast feeding, but I’ve had about all I can stand with this issue. Hopefully next time around things will be better, but maybe I’m just prone to them for whatever reason. Anyone else?

Tips for Traveling Without Baby While Breastfeeding

This past week I went to Detroit for 3 days and 2 nights on business (glamorous, I know). I was super nervous about being away from my 5 month old baby and having to pump and store all my milk plus take it on a plane.

Here are some things I learned that might help if you have to be away from your baby while traveling:

1. Call the hotel and request a refrigerator and make sure you tell them it’s for breast milk (if there won’t already be one in the room). I did call the hotel 2 days before I left and requested a refrigerator. The woman on the phone told me it shouldn’t be a problem. Upon arrival at the hotel, no refrigerators. They told me they would bring one to my room as soon as one became available. Great. I called the front desk 3 times that day and never got one. Finally the next morning I called again, still nothing. I went to the front desk and told the woman I needed it for breast milk and to please let me know when one was available. I ended up getting one about an hour later. I think because I finally told them what it was for they realized my dilemma. I was keeping my pumped milk in a cooler with ice, but ended up throwing away 33 oz because it was in the cooler overnight and I didn’t think it was fresh. Bottom line, tell them what you need the refrigerator for!

2. Bring a cooler as a carry on. You are now allowed to bring breast milk on an airplane without having to worry about the 3 oz rule. I ended up with about 80 oz and had no problem getting through security. I did bring ice packs with me that I kept in the hotel freezer. Breast milk is fine in a cooler with ice packs for up to 24 hours. I also asked if the people at Caribou Coffee could fill my cooler with ice once I got through security and they kindly obliged. I carried on my cooler and my breast pump. You can carry on a breast pump and it does not count as a carry on because it is considered a medical device. Also, the cooler not only kept my milk fresh, but it kept my travel beverage cold too, bonus!

3. Get a battery pack. If your pump does not have one already, I would recommend getting a battery pack for those times at the airport, convention center, wherever that there isn’t a private room with an outlet. This brings me to my next tip.

4. Have no shame. It would be nice if every place had a clean family bathroom or private room specifically for nursing mothers, but unfortunately this is almost never the case. I ended up having to pump at the airport in a dirty family bathroom next to a used needle dispenser in Detroit that smelled like 10 people took a shit in it. I also had to pump in the regular women’s bathroom in a stall while sitting on the toilet because the family bathroom was occupied and I didn’t have time to wait or I’d miss my flight (I had already waited 10 mins and no one came out of the locked room). Luckily the stall had a broken lock. I know you’re thinking um, why was this a good thing? Because it might not be as dirty as the other stalls because women might have used the ones with locks over this one (at least this is what I told myself). I was able to keep the door closed by hanging my heavy cooler behind the door.

5. Don’t stress out. I was very nervous about a) having a place to pump when needed, b) carrying on breast milk without issues, c) having a place to store my expressed milk, and d) being away from my baby for the first time. As long as you aren’t afraid to ask questions (Is there a family bathroom here? Can you keep my ice packs in your freezer?) and can relax enough for let down, you will be fine. I wasn’t relaxed until I made it through security on the return flight, but now that I know what I know, my next trip (which hopefully won’t happen for a while, and preferably when I’m done nursing ) will be a piece of cake!

I hope you find these tips helpful for your next trip away from baby. Feel free to post in the comments anything I missed or if you have questions!

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Pump Up the Volume

I exclusively breast feed and I work full time, which means I have to pump at work. I. HATE. IT. I am all for giving my baby the nutrition he needs, but pumping just sucks!

Take this morning, for example. I got to work and I was already full because my son ALMOST slept through the night (I only nursed him once…and probably just jinxed myself). I’m in my office and a few coworkers come in and we are talking about non-work related things, and I know I am only getting more and more full with each passing minute, but I don’t want to kick everyone out so I can pump. A) It’s kind of embarrassing, and B) I’m enjoying the conversation. Finally after about a half hour everyone leaves (I honestly was seconds away from kicking them out—I couldn’t handle it much longer!), and I put my little “do not disturb” sign on the door and break out the pump.

Well it’s a good thing they left when they did, because I had already leaked through my bra and luckily was wearing two shirts because I’d also leaked through the first one! I ended up pumping 21oz!! That’s usually what I have at the end of the day! Talk about ready to burst!

I usually pump every 3 hours. I don’t want to, but I know I have to or my supply will go down. That’s the thing. I wish I could just go all day without having to pump, but it will affect my supply (not to mention I will most definitely need to bring a few extra shirts!). I don’t know how stay at home moms who only need to breast feed and hardly ever offer a bottle do it. Some women I know don’t even own a pump. Even on the weekends if we are away from home and somewhere I can’t nurse for more than 4 hours, I have to pump as soon as I get home or my breasts will be rocks! I also am prone to clogged ducts. Maybe I have an oversupply issue??

Pumping alone isn’t even the issue. It’s that plus having to clean all the parts every time! Ugh, it’s all just the worst.

I read once that pumping can make your supply go down over time. Well it definitely is not affecting mine! I am pretty sure I could feed a small village of infants with my supply. We are pretty much out of freezer space for food because it is full of milk bags. In fact, I could probably give up now and have enough frozen milk to last him until he’s a year old like I plan to. But I wouldn’t do that. I enjoy nursing, just not pumping.

Anyone else in the same boat? Feel free to share your pumping/nursing gripes with me 🙂