I recently had a discussion with some friends of mine about how they would describe the hell on earth that is mastitis. For the uninitiated, mastitis is inflammation of the mammary gland in the breast and usually comes about (in one way or another) through breastfeeding. I realized that I missed an opportunity to ask moms about tricks they used to get through mastitis — a mistake I seek to rectify right about... now!
My own tip sounds stupid, and is also a little embarrassing but, in the name of the lactating sisterhood, here it goes: I nursed on all fours. Yes, I'm talking hands and knees, dangling my poor infected boobs over my baby's face, like a cow or some other quadrupedal mammal. Dignified? No. Did it make me feel like a saggy-teated Roman statue of the Lupercal suckling Romulus and Remus? Yes. But you know what? Dignity and the desire to not be an animal sort of goes out the window when you're in the throes of mastitis. Antibiotics also help, and feel less primal, but sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do while the doctor calls it in to the pharmacy, you know?
So those are some things that worked for me. (And, really, they did: I only had to deal with the worst of it for a day or so.) But what did other mamas find worked for them? Here's what they had to say when it came to getting through the garbage fire that is mastitis:
"Hot showers while kneading my breasts and breastfeeding as much as possible. And Tylenol! I would have died without that!"
"Antibiotics, ibuprofen, and holding my breath while mashing, I mean massaging, my breast like I was in a mochi making competition. Also hot showers and compress before nursing."
[Writer's note: Jillian asked that if I used her quote could I use a gif of someone making mochi. Here you go, Jillian. A Lannister always pays her debts.]
"One stop short of taking a rolling pin to my boob? Hot showers. Dangle feeding, too, which is super sexy."
[Writer's note: See! I'm not the only one down with the dangle! It works!]
"Meditation. Normally I'd say yoga but I feel like any unnecessary movement was just too painful."
"A sick day... or two. They allowed me to focus on just working out whatever was going on in my tatas. Fortunately I actually have paid sick days, though I didn't tell my boss I had boob flu."
[Writer's note: Seriously, can we all just get with the idea that paid leave works out for everyone in the end? Do you really want someone with boob flu wandering around your workspace in agony?]
"My mastitis came with cracked nipples, so lots of nipple cream helped."
"I kept a hot water bottle in my bra. That wasn't awkward at all."
[Writer's note: *standing there, staring blankly with hot water bottle obviously stuffed down shirt* Is that not... does everyone not just... have... ummm... excuse me.]
"Motrin, hot wash clothes, and nurse as much as possible, even though it hurts. Just close your eyes and think of England."
"Wine helps. You can't drink too much since you still have to nurse, but a nice glass of pinot noir can work wonders."
[Writer's note: Drink responsibly and forget about "pump and dump."]
"I actually have it right now and haven't been able to figure out anything, so you tell me."
[Writer's note: Here you are, my dear. The consensus seems to be heat, pressure, patience, and painkillers. I hope this helps!]
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