Speaking of nursing, I had a near fiasco the other day - my brush with mastitis! Friday I had gone swimming and felt really happy about doing 30 laps. I remember distinctly thinking "Wow, with swimming you don't have to build up to it. You just can go as much as you want." I had also been thinking how good I'd been doing with 6 hours or less of sleep a night. Sunday afternoon I started feeling lightheaded, and then when I went to bed for a nap I started to feel very warm. I took my temperature and it was 99.5. By 5pm it was 101, and late that evening it was 102.8. And my breast was sore and there were lumps. Not good.
I had done four things that I think caused this.
- pushed myself too hard and generally let myself get run down
- started taking fennugreek, because I wanted to pump more (but baby is getting enough)
- gotten lazy about correcting a latch problem - baby sucks it into a lipstick shape
- let too many hours pas (at night) without feeding the baby or pumping. I think this might have been the biggest factor, as for the past two nights I'd woken up engorged twice each night. Definitely made the boobs mad.
So, I took an ibuprofen, finally, and the fever began to break. It went down and stayed down. My breast was still sore and lumpy and I was worried (have you googled pictures of mastitis lately?!) I had been in touch with my midwife, and she said I should be able to avoid antibiotics but it wasn't pleasant. Massage, lots of water, hot packs, vitamins, etc. Lots of other people were telling me to get on the antibiotics before it gets worse.
Now ordinarily, I really couldn't care less about the antibiotics because I tell myself it's just health freaks who won't take them. Except now I have been initiated into the world of battle with yeast, in which antibiotics cheer on the nasty little overgrown yeast colonies. I mentioned that during pregnancy leading up to my labor I had an awful skin yeast on my chest. Well, let's just say that the yeast is very persistent. After rounds of OTC ointments, a round of gentian violet and grapefruit seed extract, and two months of prescription cream following all of that, they are still there. They wait for me to eat a few spoonfuls too many of ice cream, or have too much jam too often on my toast and then pop up. And they even pop up for hot compresses necessary to deal with mastitis or plugged ducts :( So, taking into consideration that a multitude of yeast woes are associated with anti' use, I did NOT want to have to take any.
But the pictures scared me, and it was still lumpy (blah blah blah, I said this all before) so I called my care provider at the hospital. I must have gotten them at lunch, because I had to leave a message. Hours later I was still wondering if my breast was going to rot off and I hadn't heard from them. But eventually I called them again and after hearing the fever had left, they basically said the same thing as my midwife (and my mom. I had called her because I knew she'd dealt with this kind of thing before). Hot showers on it, massage, etc. All of which I was already doing, which is probably what helped it improve so much.
I've done these things and now it is MUCH better. The knots are not completely gone yet but I trust everything will be pretty close to normal in a day or so more. It's a huge relief :)
So! Apparently helpful things I have done for this nasty thing that I pray no one else brushes with (but I know will, even possibly myself again, because it's so common):
- hot, damp compresses. Use a wet washcloth under a heating pad for extended periods. I slept with it over my breast in between nursing. Also get in the shower and put as hot water as you can reasonably stand, right on the affected area. Massage down towards the nipple
- nurse often, and offer the bad side first so the baby (hopefully) drinks with vigor
- massage the swollen knots firmly with oiled fingers down towards the nipple. Olive oil worked great. I tried to do this especially while nursing, with the hot packs in between
- empty your breasts often. offer them to baby often, and start on the bad side. My daughter already was a very frequent nurser so instead of wishing she'd last longer than 40 minutes in between feedings I thanked her for keeping my boob under control!
- nurse in different positions, including on all fours or leaning forward, hanging the breast above her. I think this one really helped because of the different angle of latch and gravity
- rest! I stayed in bed for practically two days. It felt like I had the flu, anyway so it wasn't that hard
- drink lots of water, take vitamin C (I've been taking emergen-C 3x daily) and echinecea. My midwife also recommended propolis, as well as a few other things I didn't get my hands on
If you are having problems like this, don't despair! You can get better :) I am very glad to have called a medical provider and hear that it wasn't really so bad after all. I guess the 102.8 fever had scared me, as pretty much everyone says antibiotics are needed at that point. But you may find the fever comes down when you get the milk flowing a little better.
Also, I find that the milk has not just suddenly let go, as I had heard of happening. The lumps are gradually going away as I work on it.