Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25 . . . On Evolution and Boobies

First, a bit of a tangent . . . So I am a big fan of evolution. In general, it's an easy answer to a lot of questions, such as "Why did birds learn to fly?" and "Why does sex feel good?". Which is why I have such an issue with breastfeeding. You'd think that the most important, keep-your-child-alive function would be easier. Part of my desire to breastfeed comes from how natural it seemed, how perfect -- my body makes the best food for my baby, in the exact amount he needs, in a container that goes with me anywhere and is available to him any time. So why is it so god-damn difficult!?!?!

First, it hurts. All the books say that "if you're doing it right, it shouldn't hurt." But I swear, talk to a real mom and she'll tell you that you can do it perfectly, and the first few weeks STILL HURT! Second, it's too easy to do it wrong! Tilt his head wrong, sore lipstick-shaped nipples. Latch him wrong, cracked and bleeding nipples. Manage to do everything right, and your reward is plugged ducts and Mastitis. That's what I've been dealing with this week.

So Monday I woke up with a sore left boobie. I had a plugged duct a few weeks ago, but nothing major. Just a little sore, and with some heat and position changes, it cleared up the same day. But Monday evening, I suddenly got super dizzy, like I was sick. I thought I just hadn't eaten enough and was over-tired, so I made Chris bring home some protein-rich snacks, and laid down on the couch to rest. I just felt worse and worse, and I finally took my temperature. 99.9, uhg. Now I normally have a temp of around 97.7 (I had to make my own FAM charts, because the ones from the book didn't go low enough to chart my normal waking temp of 96.5), so I consider anything above 98 suspect, and anything above 99 a fever. I went to my book and figured I definitely had a plugged duct, and might be on my way to having Mastitis. 

I posted a message on FB with my symptoms, hoping for a "it's only a plugged duct, don't worry about it" response from my other lactating peers. Instead I got a lot of "GO TO THE DOCTOR RIGHT NOW!!!" responses. I was really surprised at how many people responded with "when I had it" or "what worked for me" stories; I figured this was a rare occurrence -- one definition has it listed as only occurring in 3-5% of nursing women, though other sites count it as closer to 20%. I guess I just found it odd that I had so many friends on facebook tell me they had had it, and some of them had it multiple times.

1000000200   Ice pack

Anyway, I stayed in bed the next day with my heating pad and my puppy (and a bag of frozen corn, at one point). I called the midwife and she called in some antibiotics, and told me to take them if I didn't feel any better by the end of the day. I still felt bad by that evening, so I took them. Today was better, but I made sure to shackle myself in my rocking chair instead of cleaning up.

So to bring this back to evolution . . . why would the very act of feeding my child cause me to develop a condition that makes it more difficult to feed my child? Not only is the treatment Bed Rest (which makes it difficult to take care of my baby), it makes the boobs hurt, which makes me less inclined to have a ravenous child suck on them. uhg.

1 comment:

  1. Since you of the doctors I work with is trying to get a study going that studies whether mastitis causes the cells in the breast to respond or change in some way that later is protective against breast cancer, and that being a possible pathway that BF protects against breast cancer. I know! Crazy! But even if not every woman gets mastitis when nursing to notice it, many women may have "subclinical mastitis" (i.e. minor inflammation that causes some of the same response from the cells without making you feel sick/get symptoms) and that minor response may be protecting a lot more people than we realize (this would just be the extreme and thus maladaptive end of that spectrum). I'd have to go back and read the study proposal for why she thinks this might be, but she's a very smart lady; so if it makes you feel any better, someone out there thinks there might be an evolutionary benefit. I'll let you know what she finds out (if the study ever signs anyone up - funny, it's hard to recruit women in the middle of a mastitis episode!)

    In the meantime, feel better soon!!