Many, if not most nursing mommas have been there a time or two and it is NO fun. my husband and i were enjoying the weekly date night this past weekend and all was well (or so i though). sitting in the comfiest leather reclining chairs at our favorite full-service luxury theatre, sipping on cocktails, hands deep in the BEST chili popcorn in town, in the middle of the newest thriller ‘Gone Girl’ when suddenly that achy …awful feeling in my body hit me like a ton of bricks…ughhhhhh.:(
As I could literally feel it working its way from my head to my toes and the pain in my left breast my first thought was “nooooooo, not again.” and of course like clockwork, just a couple hours later by the time we were in bed came the full blown aches and pains and the total body chills. it took everything in me not to break down in tears as my husband caressed my back and comforted me.
This marked the third bout’ of mastitis in the six weeks since we welcomed our second baby girl, sweet Adelynn May. with our older, Hannah, i had only experienced it once in the first week when i was still engorged. however, diligently pumping twice a day and nursing on demand with Hannah [i believe] was the reason it never returned. and on a side note, all that diligent work of pumping and the little booger. scratch that, DIVA wouldn’t even take the frozen milk. luckily the 735 ounces that i had pumped and stored in the deep freezer ended up going to good used and was donated to an adopted six month old boy and a premature newborn girl.
Not to mention that i am a stay at home wife and momma and didn’t need a huge back up supply but my goal had been to pump six months’ worth of milk just in case i wanted to stop nursing at six months. she would still have the breast milk for a full year. i was a first time mom and had no idea how much i was going to LOVE nursing. my sweet (almost) two-year-old Hannah was nursed for 14 months and had i not been 3 months pregnant with Adelynn at that point [and told by my OB that i shouldn’t be nursing due to the heightened risk of a second miscarriage] …well i may still be nursing her.
Needless to say, i had decided that i wouldn’t use the electric pump this time around unless it was absolutely necessary [i.e. if the hand held pump wasn’t sufficient enough while i was still engorged]. yet even on a hand held pump, i have consistently expressed 5-8 oz a day since Adelynn arrived and have a nice little stash for date nights and times of crisis [e.g. a drop in my milk supply during these bouts’ of mastitis]. the 5 oz days tend to be the days when i remember (by the end of the day) that i forgot to take my MM.
So, perhaps because i can consider myself a ‘mastits-pro’ at this point, today i’m sharing my techniques in kicking it to the curb FAST and naturally, so you can avoid finding yourself in that deep dark hole of sorrow ready to give up the whole breastfeeding fight…and it starts with proper breast care.
1.) NURSE. NURSE. NURSE.
make sure you are emptying the infected breast and use a pump after feeding sessions if necessary. nurse in a variety of positions in order to drain the breast entirely. and rest assured that the antibodies you are producing naturally as your body attempts to fight the infection will do wonders for you baby. i think this is one of the few upsides to getting sick as a nursing momma.
2.) TAKE A HOT BATH
as hot as you can stand it. soak in it and massage/express milk from your breast. during my second bout’ of mastitis i did this while my toddler napped for an hour at a time and found great relief. not to mention, ended up with a very milky bath, which, couldn’t have been so bad for my skin
3.) HOT/COLD COMPRESSES
use a cloth or disposable diaper and heat it up (as hot as your skin can tolerate) and try to warm your breast as you nurse or pump or massage the infected breast. and if the pain is too intense, use a cold compress in between feedings to numb it.
4.) REST. REST. REST
i can’t emphasize this one enough. i know for a fact that this was the reason why it returned for me the third time. STAY IN BED! let the hub hold down the fort and tell him in advance how thankful you are for the help!
especially if you don’t ‘feel’ thirsty. drink as much water, (ginger) tea, and other healthy fluids as possible.
6.) GARLIC AND GINGER
Ok, the bulk of this blog starts now…anyone who knows me well, knows that i am a very natural mom who believes in natural remedies. now by no means am i endorsing the statement that says “never, EVER, in any circumstance take antibiotics or other pharmaceutical drugs for that matter ”. while i strongly dislike antibiotics, even a holistic-minded momma like myself, knows that there are situations when you just can’t avoid them (including mastitis). depending on the severity of your personal situation for it, you may need to go on them.
That said, i am still of the mindset that generally speaking there is always a natural remedy available that should be utilized before the intervention of prescription antibiotics and drugs. with the case of mastitis, these two words are garlic & ginger. for thousands of years these two beauties have been used to help treat a plethora of diseases and various health conditions and are still touted today for their amazing health benefits.
Not only are they two of the top galactagogue foods you can consume (next to rolled oats) they are also natural antibiotics, with the exception that (unlike prescription antibiotics) they do not kill the good flora/ bacteria in our gut. for this mama, that was a “BINGO!” with the second bout’ of mastitis i had started with garlic. to reap the maximum benefits i chopped up five cloves (to a decent ‘swallowable’ size) and drank them down with water.
Now i should duly note here that not all babies will appreciate garlic in the same way. turns out Adelynn was one of them she did not want to nurse the night i did this… however boy did it kick my mastitis to the curb (quite literally) overnight. my fever broke and i woke up drenched in sweat without the aches and pains in my body. within the two days since it first struck, it was gone and i was back!
This 3rd time around… three and a half weeks later, i decided to try the ginger instead and see if Adelynn was ok with it. i didn’t want to have to resort to bottles for even a night. she nursed great and i have been hooked on ginger for almost a week now!
Like the garlic, the ginger worked just as great! i minced it up, took a couple spoon fulls and swallowed it down with a large glass of water. in the same night, my fever broke, i woke up and had to change clothes [yes, i was that drenched] and the aches, chills, pains were gone.
How well do you know your ginger? once you do, you may (like me) start incorporating it into your diet EVERY day! ginger offers some amazing health benefits like gastrointestinal relief, relief of motion sickness and cold sweating, safe and effective relief of vomiting and nausea during pregnancy, anti-inflammatory effects, protection against colon-cancer, induces cell death in ovarian cancer, immune boosting action and (natural antibiotic).
So how bout’ that ginger smoothie!? ever since recovering from mastitis i can’t get enough of raw ginger and hopefully by consuming it every day, it WILL keep that mastitis at bay. i have been enjoying two smoothies a day as a part of my healthy regimen starting with one for breakfast…try one yourself! and don’t forget to take your MilkyMomma with it!
2 cups of spinach
1 cup of ice and a little water
2 Spoonfuls of raw chopped ginger…blend..and top it off with some cinnamon