What is mastitis? Mastitis is infection of the breast tissue. (Inflammation or infection can be from bacteria or yeast –as in Candida mastitis.)
It sounds simple enough. Just know this:
You do not want to have mastitis. Prevention is the best route here.
Before I was pregnant, I had heard some horrific stories of mastitis, and I knew that I never wanted to encounter it myself. I had decided that I would not, and I put no time into researching the topic.
Fast forward to a short time after the birth of my baby. I found myself in a rapid onset of some of the worst pain I had ever encountered. It evoked the pain of acute appendicitis. It exceeded the pain of natural childbirth. In North Carolina summer, I felt like I was freezing beneath layers of blankets while wearing winter layers, and yet it felt like there was wildfire beneath my flesh. My whole body could not cease from trembling, and my only utterance between chattering teeth was prayer. The pain was so acute that it induced repeated vomiting. The mother of mastitis was mine. Somehow I hadn’t done enough to prevent it, and thus my greatest solace at the time (and since) is the opportunity to educate and to help others prevent it for themselves.
Mastitis is horrible no matter how it presents. If the picture I’ve portrayed is bleak, please know that, although I am sure it exists, I have not yet encountered a mastitis story as horrific as mine. I am relieved to know that it is not necessarily that severe. I share it because I was blown away by the severity of my experience, and I hope that it will inspire you to take caring for yourself seriously. I was struck by this experience so profoundly that I never want anyone to experience it. If you may make it through your childbearing years without experiencing mastitis, it is a gift to me. Do everything you can to prevent it.
Here are eight prevention pearls:
1- Rest. Be diligent about this. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Do not overbook yourself in your fourth trimester. (Some privacy in your home would help.) Give yourself a couple of months to adjust to motherhood, breastfeeding, and your little angel.
2- Relax. Do things that are calming, like having a warm salt bath with lavender, or chamomile tea. Listen to soothing music. Listen to or read uplifting books. Avoid stressful people, places, & things.
3- Wear nursing bras. Do not wear tight things. If you wear a bra to sleep, wear a nursing sleep bra.
4- Extra Virgin, Organic Coconut Oil. It is anti-viral, anti-microbial, & anti-fungal. It is safe for your baby to ingest. Apply it after every feeding. (Amazon, Trader Joe’s, & Costco have this for a good price.)
5- Breastfeed on demand. Do not skip feedings. If you are becoming full, offer to nurse your baby. Do not abbreviate feedings. Allow your baby to use you as a pacifier.
6- Sleep on your side or back. Do not sleep on your stomach, or otherwise position yourself to compress your breast tissue.
7- Drink plenty of water. Being well hydrated benefits every cell of your body.
8- Eat nutritious things. Enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, and the best quality of protein.
What advice do you have to add about preventing mastitis? Please share!