My Story: Breast Feeding Through Mastitis

breast-feeding

Welp, it happened to me. One Saturday morning I woke up with a sore lump at the top of my right boob, slightly below my armpit. I thought I was just slightly engorged due to Emmy sleeping a little later than she usually does. After a feeding, the pain was still there and seemed to be getting worse. Within 3 or 4 hours of waking up, my pain level had doubled, my whole body ached, I had the chills yet my breast were hot to the touch. My temperature clocked in at 101.5. I called my doctor and he immediately called in a prescription to treat mastitis. I didn’t really have a clue what mastitis was or why I had gotten it? Cue a binge of google searches.

Turns out mastitis is pretty rare, about 10% of breastfeeding women are effected by it. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in inflammation and painful, tender and swollen breasts. It can happen any time during breast feeding, but is most common in the first 12 weeks.  Here are some of the common symptoms of mastitis:

  • Breast tenderness and/or warm to the touch
  • Flu like feelings (aches, chills, etc.)
  • Breast swelling or hardness
  • Pain or a burning sensation continuously or while breast-feeding
  • Red streaks on the effected breast
  • Fever of 101 F  or higher

The most common reason that mastitis appears is usually failing to drain your breast all the way, thus resulting in a clogged duct. Another cause could be a bacterial strain that enters the breast and infects the tissue. It is usually treated by antibiotic but there are some methods to treating it without. Looking back, my mastitis infection occurred right around the time Emmy began sleeping through the night. I was always so full of milk those first couple mornings and should have pumped after a feeding in order to fully drain my breasts. I learned my lesson the hard (and very painful) way, but going through it really did help me learn alot about healthy lactation habits and how to keep my boobies producing at optimal level.

My doctor advised me to use a hot compress on my breast and to breastfeed or pump immediately after using the compress to help release the clogged milk. I noticed early on that I was not able to have a let down if I started the feeding on my effected breast. So to help with that, I would start the feedings on my left breast (non-infected), while holding the compress to my right breast. 3-4 minutes after the let down occurred, I would switch to my right breast (the infected one). It took about 4-5 feedings to physically feel a difference in the size of the mass on my breast. Breast feeding through the mastitis was painful, but I could feel the tenderness over the clogged duct getting less and less severe with each feeding. My doctor advised me that there would be no effects on Emmy from the infection or the antibiotic. Within 48 hours to starting treatment, I felt almost 100% myself again.

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