healing mastitis

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dear Olive,
Two weeks ago I came down with mastitis. After breastfeeding you for almost two and a half years without a single bout, it wasn't something I ever thought I'd get; and it was every bit as dreadful as I'd heard. At 4 in the morning, I woke up with the worst flu-type aches through my body, and an excruciatingly painful breast. I was shocked at how sick I was, and at how quickly it had come on. Having not taken antibiotics for about twenty years, they are always an absolute last resort for me, so I wanted to share what I did to resolve my infection here, in case anyone else is looking for ways they can treat their mastitis naturally - and effectively. Shane went to work and I was far too sick to get to a shop to get anything for myself, so I just had to use what I had on hand.
Straight away, I piled on the clothes until I was sweating (I was shivering and freezing when I woke up) and tried to get Clancy to feed as much as I could off the painful side, massaging it as he fed (OUCH). I got into a hot hot hot shower a couple of times throughout the day and massaged the painful breast, and I kept cold cabbage leaves in my bra, changing them regularly. I drank a couple of enormous cups of chicken broth*, and I dosed myself up on the immune boosting supplements that I had in the cupboard - cod liver oil and vitamin c, to help my body fight the infection. (Plus some herbs that Shane picked up from the naturopath later in the day for me.) I also drank lots of ginger and turmeric tea (a great inflammation reducer - and the hot cup doubled as a hot compress, as I held it against the painful site). Shane couldn't get away from work until late in the afternoon and my amazing friend Clare picked you up and took you out for HOURS so I could rest and look after the far less physically demanding Clancy. (Thank you, Clare, you amazing woman, you!) I actually couldn't believe the recovery I made - from the 4am wake up, I felt remarkably better by that afternoon, and by the time I woke up the next morning, all that was left was a little breast soreness. I kept up the cabbage leaves and the vitamins and herbs for the next few days to make sure the infection was well and truly kicked.
The only thing I'm left with now, is anxiety that it'll return! I never want to return to that hell! So I've been keeping up (in much smaller doses) the ginger tea and the supplements. And I'm going to keep a far closer eye on my breasts for any lumps in the hope that I can massage them out before they become infected. And, hopefully, with luck, that'll be my first and last experience of mastitis.
(Obviously, I'm not a practitioner, this is just my personal story. I'd love to hear what's worked for others?)

A friend of mine has taught me to make my chicken broth with chicken feet - gross, I know, but it gives the most amazingly thick, gelatinous, broth; incredibly healing and healthful.


Unknown said...

That sounds like pain...
I'm glad you got rid of it so soon. I've heard some women go with this for the longest time.

I hope everything is well with you other wise, and your family.


Michele @ The Hills are Alive said...

I'm wincing in pain and almost in tears reading this - 9 rounds of mastitis with my 2nd child, the first lot even before he was born at around 8 and a half mths pregnant. Absolute HELL! Wish I had this post then to refer to. Stay well. As much as it hurts feeding through it and hot hot showers directed right at the redness does help. Also watch for cracked nipples and find something you like to put on them each feed that the baby can feed through with no dramas as the cracks can increase risk of infection...ditto sleeping/sitting/baby resting/sling sitting on you in the one spot or the position of bra etc x

Michelle said...

Oh god, awful bloody mastitis. I remember I crawled up the hallway on my hands and knees to ring my husband to come home and help me. I felt so ill. I was wincing reading this, you poor poor thing. I think you did a magnificent job getting it under control!!! Take care xxx
PS I have entertained the idea of using chicken feet....never been brave enough. I thinks it's time!

Rachael @Mogantosh said...

Horrible Kell, great job with the natural healing though. I managed to avoid ever getting it with my three - lucky. Sounds so miserable. xxxx

mel @ loved handmade said...

Oh you poor woman! I had it for the first time ever with my third baby and I could not believe the pain and how sick I was. I remember thinking I would rather have gone through the birth 10 times over than suffer this. I didn't know I had it at first but when I didn't show for a health nurse visit, she came straight out to me and diagnosed it immediately, getting me to a doctor and onto antibiotics. I wish I'd known these natural remedies, how amazing that you recovered so quickly! I hope you never have to suffer it again, fingers crossed x

emilyclare said...

Oh oh! You poor thing... and so brave to persevere. I got a blocked milk duct when Reu was 5 weeks old and we were in a tiny isolated village in the French Alps - the fevers and chills and headaches, shooting pain and fuzziness (also had thrush in the ducts) it was horrible because Alex was away all day and I was left alone with my new baby in this huge, cold, quiet Chalet. My instincts told me to nurse as much as possible on the breast, take ibuprofen for the pain, have warm showers to gently massage out the lump, drink water, rest... we got through it, and the duct unblocked in a few days before mastitis developed. When we finally saw a nice French GP he assured me I did the best thing for it! Blessings to your healing self xx

ButterandBuntings said...

So glad to hear you recovered quickly and naturally. I had mastitis when my little one was a similar age and had no idea but knew medicine was not my first option. Feeding and expressing basically non stop helped as did hot compresses and massaging. Eventually it eased which was great. Im a big broth fan so if I ever get it again I will remember that tip! Taz xx

Kristi said...

it is so common yet were all shocked when we get it, it's so awful…isn't it. i got it bad with my second (michael had to carry me into the shower i was so weak) and then with my third i knew what was happening so i got on herbs straight away from my naturopath (michael picked it up from her home letterbox actually). xx

Alex Sunday said...

oh yes, i remember this with my second child. the pain and delirium was unbelievable. thankfully i didn't need antibiotics as i just fed frankie lots and lots (oh, the pain!), slept as much as i could and went through a whole cabbage worth of leaves (god, they felt like magic!). within 24 hours i felt a huge improvement. i used this technique the few times i got mastitis - luckily i recognised the symptoms earlier after the first time. fingers crossed that's your only bout, but at least you know how to combat it if it should happen again! xo

hellopoppet said...

Glad you managed to keep the infection at bay. Mastitis really is such a slog when your wee one is so tiny. I had it all the time and I found the following useful:

A hot water bottle [much more gentle on the breast than a hot shower, I think I read somewhere that the hot running water can stimulate supply, or something, making the problem worse in the long run],

Changing breast pads often and always keeping your nipples as dry as possible,

Lansinoh cream,

Massaging the breast while feeding,

Self expressing in the shower,

Block feeding [using one breast per feed] - I had an overabundant supply which partly contributed to my problems so lowering my supply helped heaps.

Awareness. You learn the signals pretty quickly and no mama wants those flu-like symptoms back any time soon - my mastitis only got that bad once. I didn't make the same mistakes twice and awareness meant I never had to resort to antibiotics again.

I hope your bf journey continues on a healthy and loving path.

Andrea | no frills mum said...

I breastfed both my girls until around fourteen months and thankfully never got mastitis.
I'm glad it passed quite quickly for you, it sounds like it was really painful...ouch x

Unknown said...

wowsa kellie! I commend you for going it alone!! I had it once with #2 - when he was 11mths old! I didn't even know you could get it that late.. but he was teething and feeding right through the night and then hardly at all during the day. I'm glad I recognised the signs really early, just the flu symptoms before I had any pain feeding.. but I practically ran to the doctor's office for that script! ha! hope you won't have to feel that pain again xx

Anonymous said...

My sister killed two of her chickens last week end and kindly saved me the feet! They're in the freezer waiting for me to be brave enough to add them to my next batch of stock. How on earth do I clean them?

Stephanie said...

Oh my! I remember the pain of mastitis. It was dreadful and quite painful. I'm glad you are feeling better and I pray that you only have to experience it that one time. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and plan on bf again. -I'm really hoping this time I won't get it.

P.s. I absolutely love your blog and I'm a new follower. :)

Unknown said...

Feeling an excruciating pain on your entire body after waking up is never a good sign. It’s good that you were able to recover after hours of rest, a massage, and some hot broth. But I hope you still consulted your doctor after, to make sure that you’re 100% pain-free and get the right medication or treatment, if necessary, to avoid this incident from happening again.

Hannah Holland @ Berkeley Community ACU


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