I spent the morning at the Emergency Department of my local hospital. After four days of flu-like symptoms combined with swollen, sore and lumpy breasts I decided enough was enough and I sought medical help for what I suspected was mastitis.
I had been treating myself for breast engorgement with cabbage leaves which did reduce swelling but could not drain my blocked milk ducts deep in my breast tissue. I tried the usual things I knew about like using a breast-pump, massaging breasts in a hot shower and trying to put pressure on the lumps to drain. The breast-pump seemed to stimulate more milk production. Massaging my breasts in the shower roused weird emotional feelings for me and I began to weep ridiculously and then sob. The massaging hurt and I didn’t like looking down at my body as I tried to drain my milk one formerly precious drop at a time.
The last time Master 1 breastfed was more than two weeks ago; he self-weaned. He did not want my milk anymore but my body still produced it for him. I was torn between wanting all the demands on my body to end and feeling guilt that I wasn’t prepared to let it happen naturally. I was not prepared to keep putting up with lumps and pain for however long it took. I have done my time suffering to feed my babies. I have breastfed them all for between 10 and 12 months each. I feel I have done all I can to get them successfully to toddler-hood and I was prepared to ask a doctor for medication to stop lactation and effectively ‘dry-up’ my milk.
So, feeling like crap, I found myself in the medical system; a place I do not like but telling my story to a very sympathetic ED nurse who was keen to help me. It turned out that I did not have mastitis, but could end up with it if the blocked ducts became infected. She sought the advice of the midwives in the maternity ward who advised that medication was a last resort (since it is reserved for serious cases whereby women who have stillbirths have their milk stopped to avoid more anguish) and they recommended I try all the things I had already been doing, along with the obligatory 4-hourly panadol! This was not going to work for me, I wanted my milk gone so I could move on with enjoying my boys and watching them grow, Master 1 is thriving and doesn’t need my milk anymore. And, in short I have done my time suffering to breastfeed.
Thankfully I was able to speak with the doctor who delivered Master 2 and 1 and she was able to explain the medicine and how it works and that it should take only a day or so to improve.
Even when leaving the hospital I was still not sure if I would actually take the tablet. As I drove to my beautiful friend’s house to pick up my boys my head was hurting and I was struggling to understand my feelings. As instructed by the doctor, I cut the tablet in half and quickly swallowed it before I could think anymore about it.
I’m waiting for the results.