My teeth were chattering so hard I feared I may break them. I felt like absolute death while I held my two-week-old in my arms. I decided to finally check my temp. CRAP! 103.7. What in the heck? Everything was going fine a few days ago, everything except my breasts felt like they had rocks all over inside of them and my nipples were sore and slightly cracked, but that’s normal when you first start breastfeeding…right?! I called my OBGYN and explained my symptoms, got into to see him quickly and I left with a diagnosis of mastitis and a prescription for an antibiotic.
To say I was completely shocked is an understatement. How did I get mastitis? I thought I was doing the right things like: feeding my baby on demand, having her open her mouth wide enough to get more than my nipple in, using lanolin on my nipples for the blistering, but what else could I have done?
I realize now, as an Infant Feeding Specialist, who works daily with our amazing IBCLC and CLC team, that there are pre warning signs that I could look out for if we had more babies.
Mastitis warning signs:
- Inflammation in your breasts
- Cracked and or bleeding nipples
- Not feeling a decrease in the “fullness” of your breasts after feeding
- Only using one position for feeding
- Not massaging your breasts, especially where it feels hard and like rocks.
I also could have added a few helpful tips and tricks to aid in never letting it get to the point of feeling so awful and needing medication to help stop the mastitis.
Things to help prevent mastitis
- Wearing loose tops and bras
- Eating food to naturally help with inflammation
- Take a good probiotic
- See a lactation consultant right away
- Used heat and massaging to help remove more milk
As high as 30% of breastfeeding women will encounter mastitis, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can lower our chances by listening to our body and watching for the warning signs. Most times we can take action before we end up on an antibiotic, but you don’t know what you don’t know. I wasn’t aware of any of these signs and symptoms until I felt overly grim. In hindsight I wish I would have seen an IBCLC right away, especially when I began having cracked nipples.
I remember once about 5 days postpartum; I was breastfeeding my daughter and she popped off, and it looked like I was feeding her strawberry milk. I looked at my nipples and saw them raw, cracked, blistered and bleeding.
I can still recall the well-meaning advice from the older women around me during this time. There were lots of ” it’s normal to feel pain” and “your nipples would have to “toughen up””; so I just kept on breastfeeding the same way until I got mastitis.
Your experience does not have to mirror my own.
We have a phenomenal team of breastfeeding experts and our own IBCLC makes house calls so you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home. We are also able to work with your insurance. Some insurances will cover completely up to three visits. We always suggest you check to see if your insurance is in network. If your insurance doesn’t happen to be one that is, thankfully our prices are still affordable and by building a breastfeeding support package you can save yourself even more.