I think everyone can agree that breastfeeding is hard enough without issues or infections. If you develop mastitis on top of the already exhausting occupation of nursing your baby, you have my deepest sympathies. Visiting the doctor is a hassle, yes, but can you treat mastitis at home? While no one wants to take antibiotics while breastfeeding, it's important to stay safe.
Mastitis is a breast infection that may cause swelling, pain, warmth, and redness, among other unpleasantness, and according to Kelly Mom, the best first-line treatment is rest, rest, and more rest. The website suggested hitting the sack, and nursing as often as possible, but it also recommended applying a cold compress between feedings to counter inflammation, and massaging your breasts — though this can be painful (I'm so, so sorry). You're most likely to contract mastitis in the fourth trimester, when you already have 99 problems, as noted in Slate.
"It is sometimes possible to treat mastitis at home," explains Kristin Gourley, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), in an email interview with Romper. "If a mom notices a plugged duct or sore portion on her breast, she should breastfeed more frequently and take it easy in order to hopefully prevent it from getting worse or becoming infected."
If you have a fever, Gourley suggests getting in touch with your doctor to let them know what's up. "If the fever is low or very new, it's still possible to overcome mastitis with massage, lots of rest and fluid, and lots and lots of milk removal," she explains. So hit the couch with some old movies — and your baby, of course. Where mastitis is concerned, they might just be your best (and cutest) medicine. Just be sure to monitor yourself closely. Gourley stresses that "mastitis infection can . . . get bad very quickly."
Tania Archbold B.Sc, IBCLC, of Mothers Nectar Lactation Consultant Services, further notes to Romper that if you're not able to breastfeed your baby directly, other forms of milk expression, like pumping, may still do the trick. The key is frequency, especially if your breasts feel tender, warm, or lumpy. You can treat mastitis with milk expression, gentle massage, and some well-deserved rest, but if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, both Archbold and Gourley agree it's time to see your doctor.
"Mastitis can be very serious," Archbold warns, and it can lead to the development of an abscess (ouch), so seek help if things don't improve. In the meantime, Netflix and nurse, anyone?