No one ever told me a breastfeeding infection was a thing. Imagine my surprise when one week in my breast started hurting even worse, and I started to feel awful. Just the thing we need with a newborn, right? Come to find out, I had 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. (Taken from the Mayo Clinic website). AKA a week of hell.
I have been lucky enough to experience this 3 times in my breastfeeding career, twice with my first and once with my second. For me, it started with a painful lump in my breast–a clogged duct that I can’t get rid of. Then I start to feel a little under the weather, and then the truck hits me head on. There’s usually a 102 fever with chills and body aches.
It feels like the full on flu with the addition of the painful lump of a clogged milk duct. It’s awful. Absolutely awful.
And I had no idea breastfeeding infections even existed until I got it the first time. So I wanted to give you guys some insight that I have learned on how to handle it.
Before I start, I am not a doctor so this is not medical advice. I am just sharing mom to mom here.
1//Get the milk out! Feed, feed, feed. Or pump, pump, pump. Once you start to feel that milk clog happening you need to get it out. This is probably the most important thing – get that milk out! To help, massage the lump as much as you can. It will hurt like no other, but get it out of you!! My midwife gave me the tip of ‘pushing it out’ in a warm bath.
2//Get to a doctor or midwife. If you’ve got the fever and pain, you probably need antibiotics. Mastitis can turn into an abscess that could need to be surgically lacerated, so don’t mess around with it. Seek professional advice and use these tips in addition to (and with) their medical opinion. Also, a visit with a lactation consultant could also be helpful to be sure baby’s latching and removing milk to avoid repeat mastitis!
3//Heat. Get a heating pad or warm compress and use it before, during, and after breastfeeding or pumping.
4// Kinesio tape. Weird, but this was also a tip from my midwife, and I think it really helped. You want to cut your tape almost to the end in little 1/4 inch strips, and then fan them out around your breast. This link here shows how to do it with more information about the study done on it.
5// Sunflower lecithin. This supplement that can be found in capsule or powder form helps to reduce the viscosity of breast milk. It doesn’t change the composition. It just makes it thinner so it can pass through the ducts easier. Here’s more info on that here.
6//Rest. As much as you can. Try to rest. I know this is so hard as a mom because there are always 17, 245 things to do, but trust me, they will all still be waiting in 3 days when you are feeling better. For now, rest. If mama isn’t healthy, no one is. So get yourself healthy.
Hopefully this helps a little. Mastitis is the worst. There is really no other way to put it, but with these tips you will hopefully be feeling back to normal in just a few days! And remember – no blog or information on the internet is a good substitute for your doctor or midwife’s professional opinion!