“The mastitis happened after my first whole entire day out after giving birth. I had gone to the west side, with Kimbra, Ryan and his family, from 8am to 10pm. Later that night, four weeks exactly after being in labor, I woke up to shivers, by sunrise I was in tears from extraordinary pain. I took hot showers until I ran out of hot water and motrin for the fever. After a day of feeling so fatigued I couldn’t even pick up my baby, crying when she nursed on that side or pumped, and hallucinations from the fever, I got a prescription. After 48hrs it passed but I will never forget that pain. It was one of the most painful experiences of my entire life.” Andrea Kinney, local Maui mama.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue, which can result in intense pain (when the swelling pushes on the milk ducts) and a high fever. The symptoms are swelling and pain in the breasts (which may turn red or have red streaks or be warm to the touch), and intense burning during breastfeeding.
According to Mary Jane Bennett, our local lactation expert, “The sooner the Mastitis is taken care of the better.” Antibiotics may be prescribed by your physician if necessary, (don’t hold out, sometimes antibiotics may be the only way to kick it). She also adds that, “It is most important to boost your immune system with good nutrition and rest during your recovery.”
She continues to explain,”When it comes to dealing with Mastitis, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure. To prevent mastitis, it is important to nurse frequently, on demand. The key is to stay as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Stress and over exhaustion can be contributing factors. If, at any time, you start to feel fluish, feverish, or any unusual changes in your breast tissue, it is most important, to REST, REST, REST, with baby skin to skin, nursing on demand, un-restricted for at least 24 hours. If symptoms persist beyond 24 hours, contact a Certified Lactation Consultant, or health care provider. Remember to…
• Rest, rest, rest. Take your baby to bed with you and nurse. Rest relieves stress and replenishes your immune system.
• Alternate warm and cold compresses on your breasts. Warm water or a warm wet cloth will work for the warm compress while frozen vegetables, covered with a thin dishtowel to protect your skin, will work for the cold.
• Gently massage the area of tenderness while soaking the breast in a warm shower or bath.
• Breastfeed frequently on the affected side as it is important to empty the inflamed breast and vary the baby’s position at the breast, so that all the ducts are emptied.”
You can email Mary Jane Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a consultation or learn more about mastitis signs and relief. She also recommends the website www.askdrsears.com to find out more information on ways to prevent and treat mastitis.
Image Credit: Jane Hudson Stoller