Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Encouraging Galactocele Update



I look around each day, wondering how time can go by so quickly.  The baby who was nursing during the time of experiencing an enlarged galactocele is now on the verge of turning 5-years-old.

Since the galactocele was basically a non-issue these last couple years, even though I could feel something there still, I hadn't given it much thought.  Becoming pregnant with our newest member of the family, I thought the galactocele was beginning to grow again. Looking back, I believe it was just naturally occurring breast tenderness; changes due to pregnancy and hormones.  This baby was born at the end of last summer and 6 months later is nursing great!  And...I can't feel anything in that area anymore!

I am truly thankful and feel immensely blessed. We had two miscarriages between our 5-year-old and our now 6-month-old. Knowing our wee babies are in the loving arms of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has helped ease the pain of their passing into their eternal home. We know we will see them again! There were days of incredible sorrow but we look ahead to snuggling their cuddly selves.

There were days I questioned how I would nurse through the same galactocele issues with these last three pregnancies, but thanks be to God; no more galactocele!  I'm learning to let go of stressful situations before they develop.  God's Word and prayer have been constant reminders of God's faithfulness no matter what the situation.

Obviously, there is no guarantee for any woman that she won't develop a galactocele or have one develop again.  That brings me to preventative measures. Nothing listed here is obsessive in nature, rather based on knowledge of what has helped in the past and reading more about the importance of nutrition. Think of these as "simple solutions". Many I implemented while dealing with the original galactocele and have kept them up. Can I say for a fact that any one or multiples of these got rid of the large galactocele I had?  No.  However, I know that certain supplements did reduce the pain and swelling.

I'm sure there are many of these that you are trying/have tried already, but here is my list:

Supplements:
~ Wobenzym N - reduces inflammation (and more) - made noticeable reduction in swelling/pain; I still take this daily. My husband also takes this (and probiotics) due to years of hockey abuse his knees have taken; works great!
~ Garden of Life Primal Defense - probiotic/HSO's
~ Dr. Mercola Probiotic (usually take 1 of these with 1 of Primal Defense in morning)
~ Garden of Life Prenatal Vitamins - have been using for years.
~ Garden of Life Organic Prenatal Vitamins - haven't tried these yet but just switching to this new product this month to see how they compare. Amazon had a coupon. :)
~ Garden of Life Raw D3 5000IU - we live up north and I can only dream of more sunlight; lab draws have shown me deficient in vitamin D.
~ Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil - for now, I've switched to their Skate Liver Oil due to a baby with dairy issues but our children continue to take this.
~ Radiant Life Dessicated Liver - for me and kids, although I love liver & onions so if grassfed liver is available I love to just eat it. Yum! :)
~ Iodine
(Amazon links are affiliate links only because they're products I use and recommend)
~ Pao D'Arco - used this as an anti-inflammatory. I would steep it as a loose-leaf tea once in awhile when I was really engorged.  It can also be purchased in capsule form. This helped quite a bit but I had to monitor my milk supply as too much will reduce milk. Think of it working like a decongestant.
~ Sunflower Lecithin (NOT soy-based lecithin) ~ reduces "stickiness" of milk. When I did have an aspiration, the milk was like a sticky mass of Elmer's white glue. Ick! I no longer take this, but did while dealing with the galactocele once I realized it could help in that area.
~ Phytolacca Decandra 30C - was taking 5 pellets per day while dealing with galactocele.

Activity/Clothing:
~ go bra-less as often as possible (My only option for this is while at home but some women are able to go modestly without anywhere)
~ when you do wear a bra, NO underwire
~ get as much natural sunlight as possible for optimal vitamin D
~ try not to sleep on your stomach
~ avoid tight-fitting swimsuit, bra, etc. - anything that isn't allowing your breasts to "breathe"/lymphatic system to drain
~ avoid stress (easier said than done at times...I get it)

Food:
~ do your best to remove (preferably eliminate) processed foods
~ lots of vegetables
~ avoid soy (acts like estrogen)
~ limit sugar and grains (which I haven't done so well with ever since Christmas...)
~ organic when possible/avoid chemical pesticides & herbicides
~ learn to make fermented/probiotic rich foods -- I am still learning but I'm here to tell you that making your own sauerkraut, milk kefir, buttermilk, and water kefir are very easy! I'll try to write a post about those. In the meantime, you can make a one-time purchase of the last three starter cultures from www.culturesforhealth.com.  The cultures multiply and/or are activated initially so that you can continue to use them indefinitely.  You could also get a starter culture for veggies there if interested. I've made sauerkraut with that and also with a starter of whey and salt.

More Common Sense:
~ nurse galactocele side first
~ don't assume draining will be a cure-all. For most, this only works when baby has weaned. Otherwise, duct is still plugged and will refill. I felt like a clinical experiment during this process. None of the doctors I saw had seen such a large galactocele...nor did they know what to do about it.
~ it was a struggle and often painful but I was able to continue nursing even when told that stopping might be the only resolution.
~ if you do switch to formula, don't lay a guilt-trip on yourself (just don't choose soy, please!)
~ massage/warm showers/warm compress
~ sleep (definitely easier said than done say I, the mother of a baby who still frequently wakes up at night!)

I'd love to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments section.  If you're dealing with a galacocele right now, be sure to read my older galactocele posts and the comments sections too.  There are many women looking for answers but there is seemingly little information available. Hopefully our stories can help each other out as we look for solutions. God bless!

~ Heather

14 comments:

  1. Hi Heather,

    Thank you so much for starting this blog and keeping it up to date. It is frustrating how little information is out there regarding galactoceles.

    I have one the size of a kiwi and it has become painful and red. I don't know if I should get it drained or not? I already suffer from low supply so I'm concerned about a wound or infection that makes it harder for me to pump and nurse. Although, maybe pumping is aggravating it?

    I can live with a huge lump in my breast if it allows me to still nurse but since it's so tender I'm wondering if draining it is a good idea at this point? I wish I could find a doctor who knows about the nylon probing like they do in Thailand.

    Please let me know what you suggest.

    Thank you!

    Katherine

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  2. I would say that if your breast is red and inflamed, you should have it drained to see about potential bacterial infection. Sent you an email.

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  3. Thanks for your update. I'm expecting my second baby in the coming weeks and concerned about recurrence. I'll try to remember to post any updates on here. With my first son (only 20 months old now), they found the galactocele around 5 or 6 months nursing. It was sort of the death knell to my nursing, which had already been very difficult (in terms of his weight gain, my supply, and latch issues that never completely resolved). I continued nursing until 8 months and then switched to formula. I would love to nurse at least as long and hopefully longer this time. My galactocele never got infected, was only tender (not terribly painful), but did seem to affect my supply on that side last time. I also never had it aspirated. I'm hoping not to deal with some of the more serious side effects others have experienced this time around. As a side note, I have fibrocystic breasts and a history of multiple biopsies in each breast. The area where the galactocele developed was in a breast where I had had three biopsies in the last year! (We were trying to get pregnant and the doctor convinced me that I really didn't want to be worried about these being potential malignancies while pregnant - so I went ahead and had the biopsies despite the high likelihood that these were also benign). I feel that the scar tissue from the multiple biopsies is likely the cause of the galactocele developing.

    Anyhow- I want to reiterate what everyone has said-thanking you for posting your last post and this update, as well as for encouraging comments with everyone's stories. It is a wonderful resource!

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    1. I hope you're enjoying your new baby!

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  4. Hi Heather,

    I had a small lump on my right breast about a month ago along with flu like symptoms and a slight fever, so I saw a GP and took oral antibiotics. The lump changed in size and didn't went away. Two weeks after that I developed a bigger lump on the left side along with a high fever and soreness, likely due to nursing more frequently on the left. My gynae put me on IV antibiotics and the lumps went away, but two days ago, I discovered that the same small lump on the right is back. It feels like a knot, and would grow bigger between nursings. I saw a LC who tried to massage it out to no avail, and also tried all the plugged ducts remedies. The LC suspects that I actually have a galactocele and should visit a breast surgeon - any thoughts?

    Cynthia

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    1. Just seeing your reply now. How are things going and what did you decide to do?

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  5. Hi! Thanks for sharing your story! I had a galactocele while nursing my son (diagnosed with a mammogram). I got pregnant while nursing and then had a 5 month break between breastfeeding. The galactocele never went away. I'm wondering if j should get it drained? It does not bother me at all but I've had it for a good year and a half so not sure what to do.

    Also, was wondering if your galactocele ever effected your baby's stool? My son had bloody stools and I did a elimination diet which seemed to help but this was after months of trying to find s culprit. Now my daughter is 2 weeks old and she has mucusy stools. I'm wondering if my galactocele could have anything to do with this. Thanks in advance for any advice!!! :)

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    1. A late reply, but our baby's stool was never affected by the galactocele that I could tell. However, all of our children had allergic reactions to dairy. Blood and/or mucous in the stool can relate to allergies either in their diet or yours if you are breastfeeding. Hope you have found a solution since I'm replying in October.

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  6. Thank you for posting this! It's encouraging to know that with your second breastfeeding round it hasn't been an issue. I just had a galactocele drained yesterday and I felt it filling back up only a few hours afterward, which was so frustrating. I have been searching for ways to keep it from getting bigger and I found your posts and they are extremely helpful. I was frustrated yesterday because even with an amazing lactation consultant and a doctor helping me with it, I felt like they were guessing as to what to do while I was there! What they drained wasn't sticky and white, it was almost black and it scared me! They acted like they weren't sure whether it was normal or not, chalked it up to it being old blood that had been sitting there for several weeks, and decided not to send it in to a lab for testing. I wish I had read your posts yesterday before I went and I would have known that wasn't normal. Sigh. Anyway, I'm glad you have posted this info to help others and it's good to know that you were able to continue breastfeeding with it there because I would like to continue as long as I can. Thanks again!

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    1. A month later, how are you and baby doing? It's too bad the milk sample wasn't sent away to be tested just for your peace of mind. Each doctor, nurse or other health specialist I met with acted the same way: didn't know what to do and would debate a (non-)course of action in front of me. It sure wasn't reassuring, especially knowing that each appointment came with an expensive bill at the end!

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  7. Hi heather, may i ask how did you go about weaning? I have problems weaning as i suspect i also have a galactocele as my right has a chronic lump (4-5mths post bfing) and supply is soo slow and half of the left side. Everything i try to wean naturally, i get lumps/blocks and is stressing me out. Am considering taking dostinex. Thanks!

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  8. Most of my babies have been weaved a few months after turning 2-years-old. Do you want to keep nursing or what is your reasoning for stopping? Either way, there are solutions; just wondering. If you feel your supply is low, have you looked into taking Fenugreek? It's a supplemeant that I've used on different occasions and it did increase my supply. Also, you have to be drinking enough liquids and eating enough nutritious foods yourself for milk to "work". There are times I just get busy with life and can tell there is less milk readily available because I haven't eaten or drank enough during the day. A La Leche League consultant or breast feeding consultant at a local hospital would be able to give you suggestions for continuing or ending lactation. Possibly even a local midwife could assist you with breastfeeding issues. Since you asked about my weaning experience...just in case you still want to know. When I share this weaning solution, realize a 2-year-old is already nursing less and understands what my "solution" means. Bandaids. Seriously! My babies have love their nursing...still getting up at night to nurse at that age as well. So, when it's time to wean, it can mean some tears (possibly more from me?). During the day, I wear Bandaids over nipples and have a sippy cup on hand for my little one. At 2, they understand that a bandaid means boo-boo or "broken" and surpringly, they don't want to nurse with a bandaid facing them. It takes about 3 days to get them used to the idea and then they're fine. Sometimes I just need to rock them to sleep or walk around patting their backs to get them to sleep...some extra Mommy-comfort time.
    In the meantime, your milk isn't going to automatically dry up...even with Bandaids on! lol I either hand express or pump (just as much as you need to...you're trying to reduce slowly and don't want your body to keep trying to make more milk). You could drink Pau D'Arco tea to ease into it.
    I hope for the best as you decide what to do. Update if you'd like to. (Hug)

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    1. Just re-read my comment while perusing others' comments... I must apologize for so many typos! That's what happens when using an iPad to type I guess. :)

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  9. I am 26 weeks pregnant of my first child after over a couple of years trying. I believe I have a galactocele and will see my doctor in a few days. At first I thought it was a pimple or sebaceous cyst but my usual cream for that seemed not to have helped. I am just wondering if anyone has haf it in a first pregnancy and if it can affect later on breastfeeding. Thank you!

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