When I was about 35ish weeks pregnant with my first, my Mom was helping me get the nursery set up and all the typical last minute things you do before you’re about to have your first baby. And as moms tend to do, she gave me some tidbits of advice without being too annoying or overbearing, at least from what I can recall now. Somewhere in the mix of discussing breastfeeding she off-handedly mentioned this thing known as Mastitis and how awful it was and how I would hopefully not have to deal with it. Like most advice given pre-baby, I brushed it off and thought, “nope that won’t happen to me!”
As you can probably guess, it did. In fact, my entire breastfeeding journey was bookended by the evilness known as Mastitis. If you are unfamiliar with Mastitis, it is an infection of the breast tissue caused by a clogged milk duct, and causes flu like symptoms. Oh and toe curling pain to the point you can’t even wear a shirt without crying. Which, with everything else going on, can be very confusing to a new mom.
My first bout snuck up on me about three weeks after my son was born. I was already in a fog of no sleep so I chalked up the chills and off feeling to just being a new mom trying to survive. It wasn’t until my non-sleep-deprived friend pointed out that my symptoms kinda sounded like mastitis. A quick Google followed by a call to the nurse confirmed it. In that moment I remember feeling like I’d completely lost control. I was already exhausted and covered in lanolin from the pain due to breastfeeding alone, and now I had this infection and blocked duct to deal with?! Not cool mastitis, not cool at all.
Thankfully, this case was quickly cleared up once I got the antibiotics and added some pumping sessions post feedings, but it had already done the damage to my fragile new mom mental state that it came to do. It was like one more thing that confirmed I no longer owned my body. The means I was using to feed my child had created this infection that completely dragged me down and prevented me from doing the one thing I was specifically supposed to be doing oat that time, take care of my newborn baby!
After that I was convinced that getting mastitis early in the breastfeeding game was the worst possible time to get it. That is until I had another baby and it waited until late in the game to rear its ugly head.
I was nine months into breastfeeding my second child when I felt the beginning stages of Mastitis creep on. The painful feeling of the clogged duct was undeniable, and I used warm compresses and pumped as much as I could every night to no avail. And then it hit one morning like a ton of bricks. It took all my self control to drop my kids off at daycare without bursting into tears from the intense pain I felt in my right breast. Within hours I was shaking and running a fever and I knew instantly, that evil bitch had returned.
Of course I knew it was coming, but I wasn’t expecting the pain to be so intense compared to my previous case. The urgent care nurse offered a prescription for pain meds and I gladly accepted, and while it took longer the second time around to heal, within a couple of days I felt normal again. But that was the end of breastfeeding for me. I was over it. Thankfully, my daughter didn’t mind.
So to all the moms out there that have had to deal with this as well, mad props to you. To those of you that haven’t, I hope you never have to.
But if you ever start feeling the slightest symptoms, get to a doctor. And if that doctor offers the pain killers with codeine, take it. It might just be the best sleep you’ve had in months, you deserve it.