Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Mastitis

I thought I'd write this post as soon as I could to remember everything and say everything whilst it's still fresh in my mind.  If this helps just one mama out there to get through mastitis then it's worth writing. I thought I'd share my experience of mastitis (fun times) and what I've found useful. 

This is the second time I've had mastitis.  Bizarrely, I have never got it in the early weeks of breastfeeding, it has always happened much, much later on.  Bee was 12 months old when I first got mastitis and LL is currently 9 months old, so not exactly text-book timing, who claim it normally occurs in the first three months.   

I have felt so so ill in the last three days and I really can't believe how quickly mastitis goes from feeling a bit off to feeling like you can't even roll over in bed.  So as soon as you start to feel symptoms get yourself to the GP ASAP.  I hate going to the doctors (health professionals are the worse for taking care of themselves), but I didn't hesitate to get antibiotics prescribed as soon as I felt unwell.  

For me it started with a slight tenderness on Saturday evening.  It felt like maybe I had slept funny on my front, even though I knew I hadn't.  I made sure to feed LL overnight so my boobs didn't get too full, but by Sunday morning the pain had worsened and a red patch had developed. Over the course of Sunday morning I developed a temperature, chills, feeling sick and weak and not being able to do much. 

As an avid Googler (which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing), I've read alot on treatment and advice, and I also know bits from breastfeeding training I've attended and also my job. I always like to search for the NICE guidelines as this is the gold standard practitioners should use when treating you. It's up-to-date and evidenced based. Here are the mastitis guidelines, and sometimes it's worth printing them out and taking them to the GP to remind them what they should be prescribing and what the current guidance is.  No disrespect to any GPs, but there are the odd ones that really aren't sure about mastitis. I've also had some terrible advice given to me by health professionals including wearing a firm bra (?!) and not feeding from the affected breast(!)...both things certain to make things one hundred times worse. 

Clearing the blocked duct and any milk stuck is imperative, so feeding regularly (even if you don't feel like it) is so so important.  Try and make sure you empty the breast fully and express by hand or by pump if baby hasn't emptied it completely.  Whilst baby is feeding or you are expressing, try and gently massage the tender area to get the milk flowing and remove any blockages. It can be easier and gentler to do this in the bath or shower if you can't face it whilst feeding. 

You can also try various positions to help clear the blocked duct, with babies nose pointing towards the blockage.  Get into whatever position works for you, dangling yourself over baby if you need to.  If it moves the blockage go for it.  Feed, feed, feed. And as a side note, if you feel like you need help with getting a better latch, then ask for someone to watch you feed.  That's what professionals are there for.   

Using a warm compress before feeds will help increase milk flow, and a cold compress afterwards will reduce any swelling.  You can use a flannel or a clean nappy is really good to use as it will retain the water and the heat. 

Staying hydrated and looking after yourself is just as important as the actual treatment. I've read on alot of sites that being run down or overdoing it can be a contributing factor to mastitis, so make sure to rest, drink lots and be kind to yourself. 

As quickly as mastitis comes, it starts to improve too.  I started antibiotics on Sunday afternoon and I was beginning to panic yesterday that I was feeling no better.  But this morning (so 36 hours after treatment), I still feel sore and not 100%, but I've not had a temperature this morning and I do feel marginally better.  I'm sat here blogging which is a good sign.  Yesterday I just lay on the floor with the little ones climbing over me. 

Please hang on in there and it will get improve.  There are lots of lovely breastfeeding advisors and health professionals out there who can give you support if you need it.  You are doing an amazing job and mastitis happens to the best of us.  I promise you will feel better soon. Take each day slowly and hour by hour if you need to.  

If you have any advice or tips, please feel free to leave them below and let's share survival through something which is so hard for any mamas to experience. 

P.S.  A little update.  It's now 48 hours since I started antibiotics and I can tell they are working.  I've not had a temperature all day and the swelling is now reducing.  The redness is still there and it's tender but not as much as it was. 

P.P.S Some websites that I read and actually trust and don't tell me to swing my boob in the wind to heal mastitis (I'm sure someone will tell you to do that somewhere), are La Leche League, Kelly Mom, and NHS Choices



Whilst I am a health professional, this is my own personal opinion and view of mastitis and is based upon my experience as a mum. 

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