Mastitis and Maternal Maladies

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

This is a little graphic, so read at your own risk. I hesitated putting this out there, but I have had a number of friends ask me about this, so I figured why not share and hopefully help those who had/are having very painful nursing experiences like did! If you are/were really determined to nurse, don't give up. It took me 4 months before we figured it out and it finally wasn't painful excruciating.
Also, don't blame yourself if you have read up on nursing and prepared and are still having trouble. Nursing isn't easy for a lot of people (like me!). In my true nerd fashion I probably read about half a dozen books, cover to cover (while pregnant), about how to nurse properly. Nevertheless, I still seemed plagued by about every problem you could possibly have while nursing. Some things just aren't up to us, but instead of being discouraged and quitting, you can turn it into an opportunity to learn.
In order to prevent this post from becoming dreadfully long, I will give a brief summary of what happened to me and different treatment and prevention methods I learned through various sources. I am no doctor, but many of the things I learned, I learned from nurses, doctors or lactation consultants.
Nursing was tough from the get go for me. I couldn't get my Son to latch properly. As a result he more or less chomped to squeeze the milk ducts. This triggered a milk overproduction and as a result I contracted my first bought of Mastitis 4 weeks later. Hot spot, redness, hard, painful lump, fever, chills, enlargement everything. I awoke in the middle of the night with terrible fever and chills, got antiobiotics, did hot compresses, hot baths, hot showers, pumped and nursed like crazy and finally got rid of it. Latch was still incredibly painful and I got a yeast infection, but it did not transfer to my son (thrush). I used vinegar washes, baking soda washes, gentian violet and ointments to get rid of the yeast. Then I contracted Mastitis again. Followed the same protocol as before... BTW, it took me the full 10 days of medication to get better, so don't stop early. I was becoming completely exhasperated and watching about 50 youtube videos and reading 100 websites a day on proper latch, when a LC finally found out that my son's frenulum (that stringy connective tissue between the tongue and bottom of the mouth, you can feel it if you lift up your tongue and stick your finger underneath) was too short, preventing a proper latch. Got the frenulum snipped (frenotomy- can be done by PED or ENT and the dr/lactation specialist can check/do it at birth if you ask). As an aside, a frenulum that is too short can cause speach delays/impediments if not snipped. If the child is an infant, the procedure to get it snipped takes about 2 seconds and is done by an ENT, if you wait too long, the child has to be put to sleep and recovery takes much longer.
Once we figured out our latch, everything went much more smoothly. Here is a great website that demonstrates proper latch and several ways to get there, with pictures:
and here's a youtube video by Lansinoh that I found helpful:
My advice for the following conditions. I always try the homeopathic remedies before using antiobiotics...
1. As soon as you feel the lump/clogged duct/hot spot or see the redness get in the shower or bath and massage/squeeze the area.
2. Apply a hot wash cloth to the area and nurse/pump that side until the breast is empty
3. Take a hot bath with Epsom salt and squeeze the affected breast in the bath to express the milk.
4. Alternate hot and cold compresses
5. Get antibiotics (dicloxicilin worked for me)
Yeast, can be the topical cause for the infection Mastitis:
*1. Do a vinegar rinse where you mix 1 tbsp vinegar with 1 cup boiling water, wait for it to turn warm and soak the nipple
2. Make a "Triple Nipple" ointment with bactraban, polybactin and mupirosin. All of these you can get from the drug store (lactation consultant told me about the TN cream, I asked what the active ingredients were and we sort of "made our own" together with these creams)
3. Some have success with nystatin. I stay away because it has sugar in there and yeast thrives on sugar so it seemed counterintuitive to me, but I know it works for a lot of people. Some studies have also shown yeast developing a resistance to Nystatin, which is bad.
4. Sun bath topless! Yeast hates sunlight.
5. Gentian Violet is very powerful and will definitely kill the yeast, but it's the stuff that leaves purple stains everywhere.
6. Take a probiotic
*7. Combine 1 tbsp baking soda with 1 cup boiling water, allow to cool and apply to nipples.
*Remedies 1 and 7 can also be used to treat baby. Just take a cotton swab and swab their mouths.
As a disclaimer, I either tested out the theories above and they worked for me, or I vetted them through a doctor. The one link per symptom or treatment I posted wasn't my sole source of information. I just know a lot of people look for confirmation, so I thought I would post a few. This is not a super in depth post, but if you have more questions, feel free to comment/email me! Hope this helps 1 person, just a little bit. Thanks for reading.