Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mastitis without meds

Yes folks, we're talking boobs today.
And yes, apparently I'm immature enough to use the term boobs instead of breasts.

First let's get that duh moment out of the way just in case; I'm not your dr, I'm not any sort of medical professional, just sharing my experience. You're in charge of making smart decisions for your own health, not me.

I know there are moms that read this blog, and plenty of them are still in the baby-having stage of life. Which also means that a bunch are in the breast feeding stage of life.
Unfortunately that means the possibility of mastitis.
Mastitis sucks.
Not only does it make your boob (there it is again) hurt so much you debate slicing the sucker right off, it also makes you feel like you have the flu. Like sleep deprivation isn't enough, add the feeling of the life being sucked out of you, full body aches, fever, chills, headache...oh so much fun stuff!
The kicker is that mastitis is most frequently treated with antibiotics, which kill everything off-good and bad-which is great for getting rid of the infection, aaaand great for causing thrush. Like the first infection wasn't enough, now you get to deal with a yeast infection in your nipples which then often also spreads to your baby's mouth.

Doesn't that sound like more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

I've had the great pleasure (please note the dripping sarcasm) of having had mastitis five times now. Though I was blessed enough to not ever experience it until Dallin came along (baby number five), I had it twice with him, and then again twice with Charlotte (number 7). And now I have it again. I'm taking this as a sign that I should not have any more odd numbered children. 
Interpret that as you may. 

In the past I've had a little warning that mastitis was coming on. Usually at the end of the day I'd start to feel that pain, often starting as a hot spot, nursing would be a little uncomfortable. And then the next morning I'd wake up feeling like I'd been run over by a truck in the middle of the night. 
Ah, memories. 
This time I had no warning. I woke up yesterday around six, the pain was noticeable while I nursed Emily a few minutes later and I felt a little off...within two hours I could see red streaking, felt the fever starting, I hurt everywhere, had been completely zapped of any energy, and pretty much just felt like a swear word.  I was so cold a couple of hours later that I found myself sitting outside in the sun to try and warm up.  It was 103 yesterday. It still took five minutes to feel warm. 

I knew exactly what it was, but was a little worried because it has never hit me this hard or this fast before. I wondered from the get-go if I'd have to resort to meds this time.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that the routine that worked in the past would again work its magic. 

So what's the trick?
Fluids, vitamin c and rest. Nice and simple. 

Before you even do any of these things though, channel your inner hippie and ditch the bra for a day. Please be mindful of the fact that you are wearing no bra when you choose your shirt for the day. Thank you. 

I already drink a ton of water, so putting down even more takes a conscious effort. You should feel like you're floating away. Remember those pregnancy days when you peed every 20 minutes? Welcome back! Push fluids, especially water. 
Lots of vitamin c! 1000-1500mg 4 times a day. I know, vitamin c is water soluble. So aren't you just flushing it all right out? Nope. You'd be surprised how much your body can hang on to when you are dosing through the day. 
(and if you are bored read about megadosing of vitamin c to treat big things like pneumonia.  Fascinating.) 

And the hardest part of it all-rest. Notice I said the routine was simple not easy.   Rest hardly comes easy when you have other kids running around.
Make it a movie day. Lay around and do as little as you can possibly get away with so that your body can spend all of its energy working on getting rid of the infection. Nurse off that infected side as frequently as possible, and let a warm shower soften things up, or use a warm wet washcloth and massage that sucker out. 
If you have a chance for a little vitamin d therapy as well (get some sun people!), soak it up. 

The real key is 24 hours later. 
If you are not better or at least seeing marked improvement, suck it up and call your doc. Mastitis is nothing to mess with, in fact my first exposure to it was seeing my dear friend huddled up in a chair in the corner of her living room with a 104 degree fever, shaking because she felt cold, and trying to convince her husband that she was fine. She was hospitalized for 3 days because hers was so bad. 
If you do end up on meds, use a good probiotic to help avoid the mastitis/thrush cycle.  And definitely avoid junk food, yeast thrives on sugar!

I'm a little over 24hrs in. 
Thankfully I woke up worlds better today than yesterday. No aches, fever is gone.  Boob is still a bit tender, and there is still a little redness, but definitely much less than yesterday. The fact that there is a little redness there still concerns me a tad, so if that is still there tomorrow I will be putting in a call. Hopefully it will be gone by then.       

So there you have it, my own little mastitis routine. I hope you never need it, but if you do then I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.  



Jane said...

So, even though I haven't had this little girl yet, I am already a little afraid of mastitis. My sis had it and described it just as you did. Yikes! Thanks SO MUCH for posting this! I will remember this if/when it happens to me! I'd really like to try the antibiotic-free approach first and I would not have known this had you not shared. Get well soon!

XLMIC said...

I didn't get mastitis until baby #4..and got it twice. No antibiotics here, either. I used some herbal remedies from the natural food store (how hippie can you be? of course, this is so close to Berkeley so they are everywhere) and the clincher – hot castor oil compresses. I hope yours is all gone by now! And that it does NOT come back!

Heather said...

I'm sorry you have mastitis! I've had it plenty of times with my kids and it's no fun. With this last baby I discovered one other trick that you didn't mention.

Colloidal Silver! It has antibiotic properties. I purchased from Whole Foods "Natural Path Silver Wings" brand 250 PPM. (Parts per million). I put 25 drops in 1 oz of water and took 1 teaspoon of that morning and night. I felt better so a few days later I stopped taking it but the next morning the mastitis flared up again. Definitely keep taking it for 10 days like you would a prescription antibiotic. I went right back to having the dosage and felt better. You can try that if you don't want the prescription antibiotic.

PS(I've looked up colloidal silver on the web, and it's controversial like many natural remedies are. Just use your best judgement. I believe in moderation in all things, so don't go overboard with taking it, but it worked for me to use a diluted dosage!)

Best of luck!

Sadie said...

I have never had the pleasure of experiencing mastitis in all my years of nursing. But it is nice to see that not everyone jumps to antibiotics immediately!