No one ever told me that breast-feeding would be easy, but to be honest I assumed that it would be, after all it is the natural thing to do. I expected some nipple soreness, and I had been warned that for the first week or so it would be uncomfortable as my milk came in and then settled.
15 weeks in – my milk has far from settled, I am still producing more than enough to feed twins (or triplets even!) and I am facing my 3rd bout of mastitis. I wear breast pads and nursing bras 24/7 and I have to get in & out of the shower quickly to avoid having milk squirting around the bathroom.
Of course being from a farming background I knew what mastitis was, I had seen sheep & cattle with it – I always cringed at how uncomfortable the poor animals looked. It never occurred to me that I would get it.
Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the breast caused by either bacteria entering via a small crack in the nipple, or as a result of a blocked duct. Symptoms include flu-like aching, red blotches on the breast & hard lumps that form under the blotches. These areas become so tender to touch that even my daughter stroking them as she fed feels like I am having my teeth pulled. Probably the WORSE thing about mastitis is that part of the treatment is to continue feeding or expressing from the infected breast as often as possible, but even this isn’t easy - the infection stops or slows the let down, meaning that it not only harder for the Worm to get her milk, but it is also harder to express, the usually simple & enjoyable act of feeding my child becomes torture.
To add to the joy of having breast pain, fatigue & muscle soreness I now have to deal with a baby who hates the way the antibiotics changes the flavour of my milk – I’m sure that it is no longer the chocolate flavoured goodness that she expects. Last time the antibiotics effected her tummy too, and she had the same diarrhoea & wind for the first 24 hours as I did. The main problem is that we have to persist with this particular drug – I am allergic to the prefered drug (penicillin) and the only other alternative available involves being admitted to hospital with an IV drip – so I am avoiding this at all cost.
In addition to the antibiotics the best treatments I have found are fairly simple – REST, heat packs, massage prior & during feeding, cold packs immediately after feeding & ensuring the breast is totally drained – In my case this leads to overstimulation of the milk duct, my body thinks I am feeding twins again and I produce more milk – it is a vicious cycle.
I didn’t intend on this post being a ranty/whingy/woe is me story – In fact just the opposite is true. In my research of Dr Google for the initial bout of mastitis (10 weeks ago) I noticed that many websites recommend waiting 24-48 hours before seeing the doctor. I want to argue against that & tell new mums that if they think they are suffering from some of the symptoms of mastitis they get themselves to a GP as soon as possible. I live in the back of the boon-docks, in rural South Australia so I know exactly how hard it can be at times to get an appointment, however they are usually able to squeeze you in if you say its mastitis, believe me if you let it set in you will feel like death warmed up, so early action is the best medicine.
Men – one word of advice for you here – don’t even consider playing Madonna’s “Express Yourself” at any stage during your partners battle with mastitis, believe me it is not funny.
I’m linking up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM for I Blog on Tuesdays. Click on the button below to read other Tuesday blog posts.
What are your experiences with my old friend Mastitis?
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