As a lactating mother I had been plagued with recurrent plugged ducts and finding myself in the throws of mastitis, or as I sarcastically refer to it, boob flu. All nursing mothers need to be aware that flu like symptoms might be an early sign that you might have a blockage which can lead to mastitis. As soon as you notice these symptoms you need to slow down, go back to bed, and nurse the baby as much as possible. This is the time to cancel appointments, utilize all the help you can get, and just relax. The sooner you do next to nothing, the faster you'll get better.
However, despite all the tricks I had learned, I was still coming down with plugged ducts every time I turned around until I came across advice to take lecithin. It certainly was worth trying. Since I tend to be a less is best kind of gal, I skipped the high dose recommendations and have been taking just one 1200mg capsule a day, which is well below the maximum dosage. It's been about three months since I started sunflower lecithin capsules and I've realized that I haven't had anymore plugged ducts. I choose sunflower lecithin over soy lecithin because I'm not comfortable with the long term use of soy products. However, I've been unable to find anything negative or scary about sunflower lecithin. As long as it keeps my ducts healthy I'm going to keep taking one a day as long as I'm nursing.
Some of the other recommendations I've tried are:
1. wear a very loose bra or something just to hold nursing pads in place and ensure that lines or seams do not press upon the breast area. With self stick pads such as Lansinoh Disposable Nursing pads, I've been able to avoid using a bra most of the time.
2. avoid stress.
3. take it easy.
4. nurse on demand and don't wait till the baby is fussy and cranky to offer the breast.
5. keep the breast milk flowing, especially if you're suffering a bought of plugged duct or mastitis
6. hot showers and very warm compresses can help loosen duct blockage. It also helps to message or hand express milk during a hot shower, focusing on the region of the blockage to help expel the plug.
7. A clean disposable diaper that is chlorine and perfume free filled with hot water makes a wonderful hot compress. I've used Nurtured by Nature and the old version of Bambo Nature. You can reheat it in the microwave when it gets cold. However, I wouldn't advice using the same diaper compress for more than a few hours. Toss it and make a new one.
8. Take better care of yourself! Drink water, make sure you're well nourished with proteins and foods naturally rich in the vitamins and minerals you need for both you and your baby.