Nursing Mothers' Blog

    From the Founder: Managing Mastitis Misery

    It’s estimated that one in 10 mothers experience the unfortunate condition known as mastitis while breastfeeding. If you don’t know much about it, count your blessings! It is a much-too-common ailment that happens when breast tissue becomes painfully inflamed…

    I know what you’re thinking and ouch is right!!

    It often happens when your baby doesn’t take enough milk while nursing, which causes the milk to linger in the breast and plug your ducts. Mastitis can also be caused by an infection in the breast, either from engorgement, plugged ducts or from cracked or damaged nipples, which allow germs to enter the breast.

    Being a first-time mom can increase your risk of mastitis, especially when you are experiencing fatigue and stress unlike before. My initial experience with mastitis was as a first-time mom and it was somewhat alarming, which actually caused more stress and then affected my milk supply. All around, not an enjoyable time! It can occur any time while you're breastfeeding… it has happened several times for me during different stages with my other kids, but it's most common in the first month after you have your baby (as with my first).

    This can be an extremely frustrating and painful experience for nursing moms. I know it was for me!!!

    For me, mastitis was an unpleasant and outright miserable experience! I had flu-like chills, aches and fever, and my breasts were sore, hot, red and streaked. To make things even worse, on top of everything else, I also experienced extreme tiredness and shakiness – I couldn’t even hold my little one for very long while standing because I was so shaky. Trust me if you haven’t experienced it, it feels just as bad as it sounds!

    With advice from my doctors and online research, the following worked for me:

    • Nursing and pumping for my bundle of joy as much as possible to unclog the duct.
    • Alternating using hot and cold compresses – hot to help unclog the duct and release milk before nursing, and cold to help cool down my breast, when I felt like it was completely on fire.
    • Avoiding tight-fitting clothing at all costs.
    • Water was my best friend. The more I drank the better I felt.
    • Taking ibuprofen to rid the fever and also taking antibiotics for the infection itself.
    • And finally, rest. That is of course the best medicine for your body, but we know with a newborn that is often easier said than done.

    There are other remedies that might work for you as well. Mastitis can affect every mom differently, so talk to a doctor about your symptoms if you start experiencing any discomfort. You definitely want to treat it the sooner the better!

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    ** Here are a few online resources I found extremely informative and provided great tips, strategies and treatment suggestions for both clogged ducts and mastitis:

    http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/mastitis/

    http://www.pumpstation.com/breastfeeding/help-library/plugged-ducts-mastitis

    https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/breast-infections-and-plugged-ducts

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    If you’re a mom who’s experienced mastitis, share what worked to ease the pain for you!

    - Melissa Holland, BeliBea founder and president

    Edited: 2/8/17