Mastitis, a dreaded word for any nursing mother. I didn't experience much in the way of discomfort while nursing my daughter. My son this time around has been a different story. First I have a lot more milk than with Olivia, second he was born right as the Christmas season began (implying more busyness) and third I am running around after a toddler (who occasionally nurses also, contributing to the increase in my milk).
Last week while putting away Christmas decorations I noticed my breast was sore but because I was so busy, instead of following rule number one of mastitis prevention, rest, I continued to work to put my house back to it's pre Christmas order. I paid for it that night with chills, aches all over, slight fever, a red hard lump in my breast and incredible soreness. Then I decided to listen to my body! I camped out on the sofa, drank loads of fluid, packed on a warm pack, took oil of oregano, had a warm shower, and nursed both my children as much as possible. I continued to have chills through the night but they were gone by morning. I avoided the dreaded antibiotic. (Antibiotics are wonderful when needed but wreak havoc on the good bacteria in yours and your babies gut, so I avoid them as much as I possibly can.)
Note: Do not take mastitis lightly call your doctor with any concerns, but know that there are natural things you can do to "nip it in the bud" so to speak if caught early.
A recap on the steps to help with treatment of the early stages of mastitis (redness and soreness)
1. Nurse, nurse, nurse. Nurse as frequently as possible, massaging the sore area as baby nurses, this will help unplug the clogged duct that is irritating your breast. Massage with circular motions moving toward the nipple. Massage as long as you can stand it. The more massage the better.
2. Warmth. Apply warm compresses, take a warm bath, or take a hot shower. Warmth will help clear the duct. Plus it feels wonderful. Massage while doing this will also help clear the duct.
3. Rest and more rest. Usually mastitis is a result of doing to much, coupled with less frequent nursing. Your body is telling you, you need to slow down. Rest helps heal. So rest!
4. Fluids. You will be nursing frequently, so you will need more fluids. Fluids help get things flowing so to speak as you massage that swollen, painful, red area.
5. I found many herbs recommended to help your immune system fight off the infection. I had oil of oregano Gaia Herbs Oil of Oregano on hand so that is what I took. ( I also took lots of vitamin C, a known immune system booster and a few doses of ibuprofen, to treat the inflammation.) Many of my friends swear by eating raw (raw is the key here) cloves of garlic 5-6 times per day. For more information on this see these websites: Keeper of the home, Kelly Mom, (here is another good link on the kelly mom site),
6. If you are wearing a bra with an under wire of any kind, or if it is too tight, get rid of it! This will contribute to plugged ducts.
Note: Oil of Oregano can diminish your breast milk supply if taken for longer than 3 days.