Wednesday, March 3, 2010


First of all, if you are squeamish when people talk about breastfeeding or other female issues, just don't read this post. But I am of the opinion that I'd rather share my experience so that maybe someone else would benefit from it. I definitely didn't know enough about this to know what to look for or what to do.

Last night before going to bed, I was talking to Lewis about how my left breast was hurting & felt really tender. The lactation consultant at the hospital had told me you could get a clogged milk duct and that massaging it would help get the milk out. I tried that last night and then went to bed. Isis woke up to eat 3 times last night! Some nights she does 1 time now, sometimes 2 and sometimes 3. Last night she had lots of nasal congestion issues, so she woke up a lot. The first time she woke up, I was sweating and kept asking Lewis if it was too hot in her room, but he said it felt fine to him and our Grobag Egg said that the room was cool enough. When I got in bed, I noticed I was slightly achy. The next two times I got up, I felt more achy each time. It was getting worse. Then when I woke up to get Isis in the morning, I was incredibly uncomfortable when I got out of bed. I ended up just getting her and letting her lay on my pillow for a little while because I had such bad chills and was so achy that I couldn't stand to do anything at that moment. Lewis took my temperature and our thermometer said it was 99 degrees. He said I should probably go to the doctor because I felt so bad and we were worried that maybe I was getting the flu or something.

I went to the doctor and the first thing they did was take my temperature - 101 degrees!! They immediately brought me some Tylenol and did a flu test. When the doctor came in, he went through his normal questions: are you achy, do you have a headache, any congestion, etc. But his final question was: do you have any breast tenderness? I had made sure to tell them that I was nursing Isis because I didn't want any medication that would interfere with nursing. When he asked about breast tenderness, I told him about last night. I just hadn't thought that the two things would be related. He and the nurse immediately did a breast exam and just upon lifting my gown, they both go, "oh, it's mastitis!"

My first thought was, "Yay it's not the flu!!" I was worried that I was going to be contagious and that Lewis and Isis would get sick from me. But then my next thought was, "What is mastitis??"

"Lactational mastitis is a localized, painful inflammation of the breast associated with fever and malaise that occurs in breastfeeding women (UpToDate)." It usually occurs because of breastfeeding problems, an episode of mastitis with a previous child, severe prolonged engorgement, poor milk drainage and nipple excoriation or cracking. Symptoms include a hard, red, tender, swollen area of one breast, fever, aches, chills, malaise (general discomfort or uneasiness), and flu-like symptoms.

I had heard of mastitis, but I didn't know exactly what it was. Since I've never had it or breastfed a baby before, I didn't put together my breast tenderness with my fever. Now I know! If you are breastfeeding, be aware of any tenderness and definitely make sure to see the doctor if you also have a fever at the same time. They said it was really good that I came in when I did because it can get bad quickly.

My treatment includes antibiotics, Tylenol for fever reduction, lots of fluids, a heating pad, continued nursing and I have to stop using this nipple shield that I had been using because she had trouble latching on. I think the nipple shield was my problem for several reasons. For one, there wasn't full stimulation of the nipple because of the shield, and then also in the middle of the night I would rinse it off and then put it next to my bed before I would go in and nurse her the next time she got up. Bacteria could've gotten on the nipple shield and gotten in my nipple when she was eating. All the way around, it's really not fun. I am still really achy and I keep getting chills. I'm taking Tylenol regularly. And tomorrow at Isis' 2 month doctor visit, my nurse from my doctor - in the same building - is going to check and make sure everything looks okay.

So there you go! Watch out for mastitis! Not fun!! It definitely feels like the flu!

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