In the beginning of my breastfeeding journey with Q I got mastitis…three times back-to-back. Let me tell you, it was extremely painful! The pain instantly made me second guess my decision to breastfeed, and simultaneously made me appreciate just how strong women are.
The first occurrence started a week after she was born. As soon as I had a fever and started showing other symptoms, I called my doctor and made an appointment. I was prescribed antibiotics and was told nursing often would be the best remedy. I likely continued to get mastitis for the first few weeks because I was prescribed a different type of medicine than they would typically use to treat mastitis due to allergies. Thankfully the medicine ran it’s course and I was able to implement a few other remedies to be back to 100%.
What is Mastitis?
“Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection. The inflammation results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. You might also have fever and chills. Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis).” – Mayo Clinic
The infection in the milk duct can occur from bacteria, often transferred from your baby’s mouth through cracked nipples.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Fever and chills
- Tenderness, swelling, and redness that is warm to the touch
- Body aches
- Pain will nursing
The severity of mastitis can vary from person to person. If left untreated, mastitis could lead to an abscess and could result in hospitalization. Typical recovery is 1-3 days if treated early.
10 Tips to Help Improve Mastitis:
- Consult with your doctor to determine if you need antibiotics and to rule out further complications.
- Rest as much as you can. This is clearly no easy task with a newborn.
- Nurse often. The more often I nursed, the less painful it eventually was. Being full intensified the pain.
- Nurse on the infected or inflamed breast first. Typically the best suction happens towards the beginning of a feed.
- Focus on a good initial latch. The first seconds after your baby latches are the most painful, so focusing on a good initial latch will hopefully mean less pain from having to readjust.
- Consider changing the nursing position to see if that helps with a better latch and emptying the breast.
- Do yourself a favor and get two sets of the lansinoh therapearl 3-in-1 breast therapy packs. These were vital for the pain and helping clear up the inflammation and infection. Keep rotating them in the freezer, so they’re ready for your next feed. Apply a heat pack up to 30 minutes before your feed and an ice pack after your feed.
- Massage in the shower. The hot water combined with working to empty the breast gives some relief.
- Take sunflower lecithin supplements to help prevent clogged milk ducts. I started out by taking one tablet three times per day, then eventually just taking one tablet a day. Consult with your doctor.
- Be mindful of your diet. Limit sugar intake and drink lots of water.
Read my post on “Breastfeeding and Pumping: 10 Tips for Beginners” here.