Experiences Of Mastitis

This post is our second in a series on Mastitis. We have asked three moms to tell us about their experiences. You can see one of the other two posts here and be sure to come back next week for the third!

By Sylvie Foxworthy

When I had my first born nearly 17 years ago I had absolutely no idea that women could suffer from the uncomfortable, painful and debilitating condition that is mastitis.

When my son was just 2 weeks old and feeding very frequently I awoke to find my breast lumpy and inflamed. To add to the worry I also felt as though I was coming down with flu. Headache, sore eyes and the hot and cold shivering of a temperature. My Mum was worried and called the Doctor who, amazingly enough, came to the house to see me. He diagnosed mastitis and prescribed an antibiotic.

Now, all these years later and I am breastfeeding my 4th child who is 15 months old. Thankfully I have learned from experience and many trips to (sometimes ill-informed) doctors that antibiotics are certainly not always necessary.

My 2nd son Leon, now 3, was a difficult baby to feed and I had a dreadfully frightening experience whilst away in Spain with my husband. The circumstances were sad enough. My Father-In-Law had been diagnosed with terminal cancer so this was not a holiday by any stretch of the imagination. As a little treat my sister-in-law paid for me to have a massage in the hotel where we were staying. I was a little apprehensive that morning as Leon had missed a feed. That was my initial mistake. The masseur showed me how to lie on a bench on my stomach with a towel around my breasts. Already I was uncomfortable..my second error!

After the massage my breasts were feeling lumpy and engorged, caused by the missed feed and lying flat down on them. I tried to feed Leon to alleviate the pain and engorgement but he was very restless, probably because of the pressure of the milk in the sore breasts. By that evening I was really ill..my breasts were both inflamed with little red thread veins evident on the surface.

I had a lump in one breast that no amount of feeding would shift. I had a raging temperature and my neck felt like it was locking up. Little did I know that a dose of ibuprofen could have really helped if taken in the early stages! Not speaking any Spanish it was extremely frightening finding a health center and getting medication.

By that time I had no choice but to take antibiotics and was given wrong advice to stop feeding on the lumpy breast. Luckily I instinctively knew this was wrong and carried on feeding although it was agonizingly painful.

Since that very unpleasant experience I have read as much as I can on mastitis and have gotten to the stage where I can recognize the early symptoms and nip it in the bud. Luckily, with Reuben, my latest babe, I have not had one serious bout of mastitis.

I would give all women the following advice although obviously there is a wealth of knowledge out there on the internet.

Firstly, if you feel a lumpy sensation and sometimes pain and/or redness try to carry on feeding as much as possible of the affected side. It often helps to try to position baby so his nose is facing the sore area.

A dose of ibuprofen can help the inflammation and does no harm to the baby although always check with your doctor if unsure. I have had to use my breast pump on occasion if I have a stubborn lump and my baby doesn’t want to nurse.

Most importantly, please do not let the worry or actuality of mastitis put you off breastfeeding. It can easily be remedied and certainly will not always need an antibiotic.

Nothing can beat the satisfaction of helping yourself over mastitis and carrying on with the wonderful and fulfilling joy that is breastfeeding!

Sylvie lives in The United Kingdom with her four children. You can find her on Twitter @Fizzyladyrx8.

Have you had mastitis? What helped you the most? Please share your experiences and advice for other moms!

3 comments to Experiences Of Mastitis

  • Great info on mastitis! Just getting over a short-lived case here. One piece of info to add- you said to point baby’s nose at the plug- baby’s jaw does most of the work in sucking, so it’s best to point their chin at the plug. Sometimes, that makes for impossible positioning, so nose pointed at it is 2nd best.

    Also, moist heat & lots of massaging the plug especially right before nursing helps to loosen it up.

    momma to 4

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  • Alice

    Feed baby in a warm bath whilst massaging the lump. Can really help.

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