What’s that? Sorry, it’s hard to hear you over the one-woman party I’m having for myself, celebrating the fact that I don’t have mastitis (anymore). If you’ve ever been afflicted, or know someone who has, perhaps you’re familiar with how uncomfortable and frustrating and even debilitating it can be. If not? Well, sit back, dust the mental confetti I’ve been throwing off yourself, and get comfortable (which hopefully won’t that hard, especially if you’re currently breastfeeding), because I’m going to tell you a few things about mastitis that no one else will.
When I think of mastitis, I think of my couch, because that’s where I spent the majority of my day. I also think of my son as a tiny newborn, because that’s when my ongoing breastfeeding problems (that usually included mastitis) started. For those who aren’t familiar (and I am oh-so jealous of you all, by the way), mastitis is defined as a breast inflammation typically caused by infection, which frequently happens to breastfeeding moms when bacteria from their baby's (or babies') mouth gets inside the cracks in a woman's nipples. It’s a pain, you guys. Literal and frequent pain.
Add mastitis to the postpartum hormones and emotions and fatigue that every new mom experiences on an ongoing basis, and it’s a recipe for stress and disaster and self-doubt and exhaustion and the list can (and usually does) go on and on and on. So, since knowledge is power and usually manifests into solidarity, it’s time to shed some light on the mastitis experience, because knowing will help you get through it, and remind yourself that if you're experiencing mastitis, you're not alone.
It Can Be Hard To Figure Out What’s Happening
At first, I attributed my discomfort to the lack of sleep and to my slow postpartum recovery. Then,I realized, weeks in, that I probably shouldn't be feeling worse than I did when I first came home from the hospital.
You Might Mistake It For The Flu...
Speaking of things that come to mind before you realize it's mastitis, I thought I was actually sick with something, because, you know, body aches and fatigue and all that jazz sound a lot like a really crappy cold. However, upon further review (and a test of my temperature), it became clear that something more was going on that a few over-the-counter meds couldn't fix.
...But It's Worse, Because It’s In Your Breasts
To be fair, the breasts of a new, breastfeeding mom probably aren't exactly feeling awesome, but seriously, adding mastitis to the mix takes the potential discomfort to a whole other level.
You’re Allowed To Rest
So, let's say you have mastitis. What should happen next? Well, for starters, you should stop whatever you're doing (set the baby down gently, if that applies), and lay down. Seriously, get some rest.
You May Need To Breastfeed In Some Contorted, Awkward Ways In Order To Get Through It
To loosen up the blockage, sometimes it helps to breastfeed in a different position and allow gravity to give you an extra hand. I'm just thankful that no one in my house thought it appropriate to take pictures of me breastfeeding my son through mastitis, because it was weird you guys. So weird.
It Can *Hopefully* Pass Quickly
The good news? You can start to feel better in eight to 24 hours.
Accept Support, And Snuggles, If That’s Your Thing
Some moms may prefer to simply ride it out and have some time to themselves. Others might want to keep their babies close for their own comfort. Either way, you should feel free to take care of yourself.
You May Or May Not Need A Doctor’s Care
Seriously though, don't hesitate to check in with your doctor if you have any questions, or if you feel like you need further treatment. Let's not mess around when it comes to our health, especially when there's a young baby depending on us, too.
One Of The Ways To Cure It Is, More Breastfeeding
It may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the cures for a breastfeeding-related ailment is, in fact, more breastfeeding. At least it's easy to remember, right?
Remember To Only Focus On The Basics
In the midst of my own mastitis experience, my mom gave me some crucial advice, which was to just worry about feeding and changing the baby, and letting him sleep, because everything else could take care of itself. I was lucky that she was right.
There Are Lots Of Resources Out There
If you're currently fighting mastitis, know that you're not alone. Other moms have been there, and we understand and totally support you leaning wherever you need to lean.