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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mastitis sucks.

Not the most clever title but if you've had Mastitis you will agree.

Mastitis is an infection of the breast, most often caused as a result of breastfeeding (although men or women not lactating can get it too).  Most women get it when their babies are quite young, within 4 weeks post-partum.

I am not most women however.  Ha!  My sweet 8.5 month old baby is finally starting to sleep longer at night and Mastitis was my oh-so-not-wanted reward.  She wasn't keeping up with my supply and so infection set in.  Or at least that's the theory.  It might be because she bit me the day before, who knows.  All I know is I got very very ill all of a sudden on Sunday evening and am still recovering and on antibiotics.

I am not a doctor or a medical professional, just a mommy who has had Mastitis 5 times so far (4 with my first daughter and once so far with the baby).  And this is what I've learned.

Common Symptoms:

-high fever and chills (I had 104.7)
-red spot on your breast that is hot to the touch, hard and sore.
-achy and tired (like the flu)
-pain during breastfeeding

If you get Mastitis here are some non-medical things that helped me.

  • Lecithin - 1200 mg 4x a day.  Lecithin also helps with plugged ducts and was easily found in the vitamin/supplement section of my grocery store.
  • Hot compress - Using washcloths or towels put as hot of water you can handle on the red spot/infection site throughout the day.
  • Hot showers - Similar concept as the compress, hot water helps bring blood flow to the infected area which promotes healing.  Especially if you massage the infection while under the water.
  • Sleep/rest - This one is tricky, especially if your baby is older and/or if you  have other children.  But do the best you can to cut back on your busy schedule and just lay around.
  • Nurse - This may seem counterproductive if there is a lot of pain, but nursing really makes it better.  The nursing pulls out the infection and keeps the milk moving.  The infection is not dangerous or contagious for your baby by the way.
  • Yogurt - My doctor told me that two servings of yogurt (w/active cultures) a day has shown to help decrease the length of an infection.  
The non-medical/natural solutions are great but what really helped me was antibiotics.  All five times that I've had Mastitis it's the antibiotics that really turned things around.  And when you've got a temp of 104.7 it's not the time to wait and see if you'll get better on your own.  Trust me, in this case drugs are good.  Really good.  Sometimes you may even need to try different antibiotics before finding one that will work.  That's what happened to me with this current infection.  It was that bad.

So if you get Mastitis remember to rest and to get medicine if you have a high fever ASAP.  Don't let it make you give up on breastfeeding.  I remember with my first daughter someone asked me why I was still breastfeeding (after having it 4x) and when I would give up.  I thought about it and said that I'd just keep trying and wouldn't stop breastfeeding until I'd had it eight times. :)  I am so glad that I didn't give up because my daughter went on to breastfeed seamlessly after that until she was almost 2 years old!  It may seem horrible at the time (and it is) but wait until you're healthy again before making the decision to wean.  

1 comment:

  1. You are such a dedicated mama! The yogurt helps while you are on antibiotics too to prevent you from getting diarrhea from the antibiotics. I'm so lucky with both girls I went through whole 12 hour shifts at work without pumping. I would leave with my scrub top soaked and feeling like my boobs were going to explode. Then I would nearly drown my poor babies when I got home! But not once did I get mastitis. Maybe God figured I had enough problems :)