In the previous post, I briefly explained how my birth experience was far from ideal, and I explained how an induced birth can bring a cascade of unwanted medical interventions.
I also had problems trying to establish breastfeeding; because the birth of my son ended in a C-section, it took longer for my milk to be produced. I had problems getting my son to latch on properly from the beginning. During the first days breastfeeding was sore, no matter what position I tried, it made me feel like I was useless. How could I not get it? My other half’s idea of helping was to tell me I had to relax, I was too tense. Now that I think about it, he is lucky to be alive…
About a week after the birth, I remember one night feeling really cold. So cold, I was shivering. I didn’t know what was going on, my breast was very sore and in the morning I started to think that I could have a breast infection, or what is mostly known as mastitis. I couldn’t stop shivering and I had a temperature, so I went to the GP who confirmed the diagnostic. He prescribed antibiotics and told me to rest. The worst part was that for a couple of days I could only breastfeed from one side, but I still had milk on the other breast so I had to use a manual breast pump to get it out . I was so miserable. But after a couple of days, when I already was feeling much better, I breastfed from the infected side and I was so relieved that the pain was not half as bad as I thought it would be. From then on, breastfeeding got easier… nothing can be as bad as getting mastitis!
Now, if I was going to do it all again, I would first do everything to prevent the mastitis from happening, and I would have some natural remedies at hand to treat it.
What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is an infection of the breast, caused my blocked milk ducts or milk excess. Mastitis usually affects just one breast and the symptoms develop very quickly.
Symptoms of Mastitis
- You feel as if you have the flu. You feel ill (aches, shivers, fatigue)
- You have a temperature (over 38 C)
- Your breast is red and/or lumpy, tender and is swelling
- Breastfeeding feels very painful
How to Prevent Mastitis
- Breastfeed on demand; try to forget routine for a few days and breastfeed when your baby is hungry. This way you are helping to avoid a blockage of the milk ducts. If your baby goes without feeding for a long time, you can always express milk.
- Rest, rest, rest. You have heard it a million times: sleep when your baby sleeps. But still, you use that time to catch up with house chores. Well, see what can happen to you if you’re exhausted all the time?
- Eat a good nutritional diet. Eat plenty of meat, fish, eggs, olive oil, butter, veg… for more info on a nutritional diet, have a look at these articles: 5 Quick Tips to achieve a healthy living and How to cut Sugar Out Of Your Diet
- Wear a well-fitted and comfortable breastfeeding bra
- Make sure that the baby latches on properly, mama.ie have really helpful articles on latching.
Natural Remedies to treat mastitis
- Apply warm compresses on your breasts a few minutes before feeding to help stimulate your let down reflex.
- Apply a homemade oil mix made from lavender, almond and wheat germ oil, or other variations. Check out There is an Oil for that for Oil recipes to treat mastitis.
- Green Cabbage leaves. When one of my friends with over milk supply was recommended cabbage leaves by the GP we fell off the chair laughing, but it does work. Apparently, cabbage leaves have anti-inflammatory properties. It is recommended that you wear your cool cabbage leaves (straight from the fridge) under your bra (yeah, I know), replace every few hours and even sleep with them on. It is also recommended to eat raw leaves to heal the infection from the inside.
- Take a tincture of Echinacea, three to four times per day. Echinacea is a natural antibiotic.
- Eat four to five raw garlic cloves per day.
- Epsom salts: Take a bath in Epsom salts diluted in water. Epsom salts have a lot of magnesium which opens the milk ducts and promotes healing.
Do you have any other tips? We would love to hear them!
Mastitis is a serious infection therefore you should always make sure you are seen by GP if you have of the symptoms mentioned above.
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