Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Matter Close to My Heart...Literally

This post is about breastfeeding, so I will be discussing things such as my breasts and nipples. If you would rather live your life without this information then discontinue reading.

Also, all health information is my own opinion and not meant to diagnose or treat any disease or ailment. Always consult with your doctor about any treatment program. Thank you.


Three weeks ago Doozer bit me on the nipple, drawing a bit of blood. I don't blame her too much, she is still teething in earnest which makes chomping a natural reaction to having something in her mouth. Even if that something is a super sensitive part of me.

BuggaBoo did the same thing about this time in his life years ago, but his was a bit more malicious. He was wet, I was in a conversation and not really paying attention to his fussing, so I just stuck a boob in his mouth. Well, he figured out how to get my attention, and quickly! He bit me much more deeply than Doozer did, but it healed in about three days.

Not so this time around. Oh no, this time a little cut decided to become a large cut which became an ulcer. At it's worst this ulcer had a diameter of 3/8" and was at least 1/16" deep. Everyone I showed it to winced and groaned and one of the apprentice midwives that was at Doozer's birth even dropped the F-bomb. That last one cracks me up because she is such a mild-mannered lady. I visited with my friend a few days ago, a woman very knowledgeable in the way of breasts and babies. Her opinion is I have a very bad case of thrush which is impeding the healing.

Two weeks ago I showed it to my sister's midwife while I was visiting family in Washington. She prescribed comfrey, as a poultice and a salve. To use dried comfrey as a poultice you steep about a tablespoon of comfrey in boiling water until it softens, then apply to the wound and wrap tightly. In this instance I placed it in a breast pad. To make the salve I used coconut oil and dried comfrey. In a double boiler put water in the bottom and coconut oil in the top. Set the water to a simmer and melt the coconut oil. When it's thoroughly melted add a goodly amount of comfrey. Keeping the water at a simmer steep the herb in the oil for two to three hours, until the oil is a bright and beautiful green. Strain and put the oil in a container. Apply liberally, it is safe for breastfeeding babies.

So I was applying the salve and poultice but the continual nursing was not helping at all. So I decided to quit nursing on that side and just pump with a Medela hand pump. I also cut down BuggaBoo's nursing sessions to three times a day and kept them very short.

The result is yesterday I was nearly dried up. More dramatically there is at least a cup size difference between my two breasts, the smaller being the one I wasn't nursing on. While visiting with my apprentice midwife (she's not my apprentice, but, well, you get it) she explained that when the body receives less suckling under very stressful circumstances (moving, visiting family, The Hubby sick with the flu, major diet changes, BuggaBoo vomiting again) your milk supply can suddenly and rapidly dry up. The theory is it's for survival reasons, but I can tell you it's very frightening to feel you may not be able to nurse your little baby anymore.

So two midwives and a doula recommended starting an herbal regime to boost milk supply. According to them tinctures of fenugreek and blessed thistle are the best, followed by capsules, followed by teas. I found a capsule of lactation support I feel comfortable with. I'm taking three capsules three times a day, to equal nine capsules each day. I took my first dose last night and felt fuller this morning, so I'm feeling very hopeful.

The next bit of advice was to take a nursing holiday. I'm to do nothing but lay in bed (or on the couch, since The Hubby is using the bed to sleep for work tonight) and nurse the babies as often as they want it.

So, please, wish me luck. My nipple still isn't fully healed, my house is a disaster, and I think I caught The Hubby's flu. Lazing around isn't going to be as easy as it sounds.


  1. Yeah, the idea of a nursing holiday works best when the littles aren't independently mobile. Hope yours cooperate and you get some rest and some relief. Ouch! I'm impressed by the research you've done.

  2. Thank you, Caroline, it's going pretty well so far. I'm just having to turn a blind eye to my house...

  3. Krista, I have a few boxes of the Mother's Milk tea if you need some. I have been lucky lately and have not had to drink any, so I will gladly give you some. Please let me know if you need anything. I will try calling you tomorrow. :-)

  4. My best wishes for you lovely. Please let me know how you are doing!