One U.K. Mom Is Speaking Out About Mastitis

May 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Jgaunion/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. When it all comes together, it can be a beautiful thing; when it doesn't, there can be discomfort or even all-out pain — and much worse.

One mother in the U.K. is hoping to spread awareness of the dangers of mastitis, a breast infection and complication of nursing that can, in rare cases, become fatal. Remi Peers' son, Rudy, was only 2 months old when Peers was hospitalized with sepsis — a systemic blood infection caused by mastitis.

Luckily, doctors were able to control Peers' sepsis and end her bout of mastitis with strong antibiotics, but if she hadn't taken it seriously, the consequences could have been dire. So Peers posted a photograph of herself from the hospital, taken 10 months ago, on Instagram. The photo is hard to look at, but her hope is that the image will send a strong message in the U.K. — that nursing moms aren't getting the support they need there. And we're guessing that's a message that could stand to find a home here in the U.S. too.


More: How to heal from a breast infection naturally

Peers struggled with breastfeeding from the beginning. Her milk didn't come in for a full five days after Rudy's birth, and the pain from her bloody, fissured nipples was excruciating. She didn't know how to help Rudy into a good latch, and no one had talked to her about the dangers (or signs) of blocked milk ducts or symptoms of early mastitis.

Peers wrote compellingly about her experience in her Instagram post:

“Breastfeeding is HARD, it needs to be taught and it needs to be learned. Just like walking, talking, reading and writing- it may be natural, but it does not always come naturally. And this is what I should have known but didn’t, this is what I might have known if breastfeeding rates were higher, if this society didn’t objectify breasts," she said.

"If new mothers knew just how difficult it can be at first, more would take themselves to prenatal breastfeeding classes, buy books, join forums, and ask more questions- But we don’t, we just assume that it will feel as natural as breathing. Because no one ever told us," she added.

Peers (quite amazingly) breastfed her son for more than a year — despite her painful, scary experience. But she doesn't want her rough journey to put off other moms; rather, she's hoping her photo and words will help other nursing moms feel less alone and empower them to reach out for support.

“My intention with the post was most definitely not to deter or frighten women away from breastfeeding but rather to raise awareness around the importance of face-to-face education both pre- and post-pregnancy,” Peers told BabyCenter. “I want women to be aware about the potential problems that can arise and to be prepared, so that they can then go on to successfully breastfeed for as long as they want to.”

More: Weird breastfeeding problems no one ever talks about

Although Peers doesn't regret her choice to breastfeed one bit, she also advocates a no-shame approach for moms (we agree wholeheartedly — a fed baby is a happy baby, period). “I’d also like to add that although I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, sometimes for some women breastfeeding just doesn’t work out, and that’s OK, and there is NO shame in supplementing or switching to formula,” she said. “I just want women to feel empowered and supported in their choices.”

Can't argue with that.