Unfortunately in trying to wean my son off breastfeeding, I have been suffering with mastitis. Here are my top tips for treating this painful condition, without having to resort to antibiotics.
A few months after giving birth to my son I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. I was feeling dizzy, irritable and losing a lot of weight. My GP, health visitor and consultant at the hospital all told me I should cut down breastfeeding, as this would also be contributing to my weight loss. As my condition worsened, I decided that I would need to cut down my feeds and unfortunately in doing so mastitis struck, and boy did it hurt!
Mastitis is a very painful condition, leaving your breasts feeling inflamed and extremely painful. I have had it three times now and luckily each time I have managed to treat it without antibiotics. My symptoms were a fever and a burning sensation in my breast whilst feeding. My breasts were also really hard and lumpy.
I wanted to share my tips and remedies for beating mastitis without having to resort to antibiotics, in the hope that they can help other mums who might also be suffering from the condition.
- Feed Feed Feed
Unfortunately this isn’t helpful if you are trying to wean your baby off breastfeeding, but when mastitis strikes, having your child feed off the affected breast is one of the best ways to treat the condition. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts like hell, but it really does help in removing any blockages and emptying your breast of milk. Your other option is to express. When I had mastitis, I increased the amount of feeds to try and drain my breast fully and also got my son to feed off the affected breast first. Also make sure your baby has a good latch, as this can make a huge difference in ensuring your milk is drained properly.
- Turn up the heat
Applying heat to the affected breast can also help treat blocked milk ducts. I found warming a flannel and placing it on to the breast before and after a feed really helped.
When you’re in the shower, massage your breast. Again, this will hurt, but it will really help in clearing the blocked ducts. I highly recommend buying a wide toothed comb and using this to massage the breast using shower gel. Massage down towards the nipple when using this method, focusing on any lumps. You really will feel instant relief!
- Try different positions
In order to beat mastitis I tried lots of different breastfeeding positions to try and make sure my affected breast was emptied. The best one I found for treating mastitis is the ‘Dangle Feed’ position. It is probably the most uncomfortable of all positions, and the one you really won’t feel like doing when you’re suffering with a fever, but it definitely works in helping to treat mastitis. Basically, you position yourself over your baby so they are looking up at you. Gravity really does work wonders in dislodging the blocked milk ducts.
- Keep hydrated
Make sure you drink plenty of water when you have mastitis as the condition really does take it out of you, and as you need to continue to breastfeed or express, it’s really important to keep hydrated as this will help fight the infection.
- Wear loose clothing
When I had mastitis, I wore very loose clothing and ditched the bra as I found it was contributing to the pain in my breast.
- Take pain relief
Before resorting to antibiotics, try over the counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen to reduce the pain, inflammation and fever.
I know rest is a foreign word to us mums, but when you have mastitis it really does knock you for six, so if you can get someone to watch your baby so you can take some time out, it really will help speed up your recovery.
If the above tips don’t help, or you can see that your nipple is infected, go and see your GP as you may have to take a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria responsible.