Mastitis is the PITS. Or, somewhere around that region, anyway.
For real, though, mastitis is no walk in the park. In fact, with the weakness and aching you'll feel, good luck walking anywhere much, at all.
For those of you that are thinking, "What the heck is Mastitis? That really doesn't sound fun." Read on! Also read on if you want to know what the heck to do about it.
What is it?
Mastitis is a bacterial infection in the breast tissue. This occurs when bacteria enters a milk duct from a crack in the nipple.
Usually you'll start out with a clogged duct that will be mildly painful and will progressively worsen if you don't address it.
Early Warning Signs
Sometimes, you don't get warning signs, and it just hits you out of nowhere; like a semi-truck flying full-speed around a corner, right into you, at 2-o-clock in the morning and you wake up in so much pain you legitimately think this is end.
Not that I have experienced this or anything. I digress.
BUT if you DO get warning signs they will likely be localized pain in a particular area or areas in your breast, and, maybe, some redness, swelling, or heat in those same areas.
*warmth (read burning fires of hell)
*your body weighing you down like an anvil so you can barely move
*feeling like sharp needles of death are flying out of your nipple as baby nurses
Not everyone will have all the symptoms so if you have any of these accompanied by localized breast pain, soreness, redness, and /or heat, think about going to see your care provider.
If you catch mastitis early enough, or your symptoms are mild, you may consider some of these remedies: alternating hot/cold compresses, hot shower or bath accompanied by breast massage, drinking pineapple juice, pumping/breastfeeding accompanied by breast massage; this is not the kind of relaxing massage you'd get at the spa. It hurts. A lot. Do it anyway, trust me. But above all, be gentle with yourself, don't push yourself. Get lots of fluids and rest. If possible, have someone come help with the baby and chores so you can get as much rest as possible. If symptoms persist, make an appointment with your care provider. They can make other suggestions or treat the infection with antibiotics.
*Please note that you should always discuss any and all treatment options with your care provider before use. I am in no way qualified to diagnose/treat/or cure mastitis or any other illness.
When to go to the hospital
It's always a good idea to call or go see your doctor or care provider if you feel like something is off. Trust your instincts! Call to make an appointment if you have abnormal discharge from your nipples or the pain is making it difficult for you to function.
Seek emergency treatment if you have:
*a persistent high fever greater than 101.5*F
*Nausea or vomiting that is preventing you from taking prescribed medications
*pus draining from the breast
*red streaks extending toward your arm or chest
*dizziness, fainting, or confusion
The good news is that Mastitis is relatively uncommon. Only 1%-3% of women experience it. If you happen to be one of the other 97%, thank your lucky stars! And then, go take a meal to your unlucky friend that ended up with mastitis.
Have you had mastitis? What are your best tips or remedies? Tell us in the comments!
Authored by: Shellee Semrad, Owner, Utah Family Doulas