I have been given the gift of So. Much. Milk. If I were a cow, this is what my utters would look like. Consequently, with an oversupply often comes Mastitis. Even if you’re an exclusive pumper, there’s a good chance if you have too much milk you may get this icky infection. This is a very painful infection in the breast tissue. You will feel sharp, burning (sometimes stabbing!) pains in your breast when it sets. If it continues, you may develop a fever and flu like symptoms. It is [typically] brought on because of clogs in the milk ducts, stress, or not emptying all of the milk out. I had this THREE times with Brooks and want to share some tips to help relieve the pain and help get rid of it.
I got the worst “case” I had ever had in March of this year. I had a LIME sized clog in my left breast. It became so infected that my entire breast, up to my collar bone and all the way into my armpit, became bright pink. It looked as though I had gone into the tanning booth on high! I became desperate and tried everything.
Some things relieved the pain and others helped cure it. I did see the doctor and was prescribed antibiotics. Use your instincts; it’s important to see the doctor if you need to! Here are some of the things that worked for me before the meds did their job.
- Massage. I highly, highly recommend massaging the breast when you’re pumping or breastfeeding. I start by doing circular motions from the armpit and all around! This will help get the clogs & tissue loosened up.
- Get on all fours while pumping and let the pump shields hang from your breasts. Let gravity help you! Doctors suggest having babes nurse this way, and it works well for the pump, too. This will only be feasible if you wear a pumping bra. I wear a sports bra that I cut holes where the nipple shields go through. If you’d like more info on exclusively pumping, Click HERE to read my tips and tricks!
- Use warm/hot compress to help loosen clogs. Better yet, if you can, take a hot shower, massage there, and then pump after!
- Lavender oil. Not only is this a calming essential oil, it can help reduce the inflammation in the breast. I use Fractionated Coconut Oil with a drop or two of Lavender and use it to massage the painful spots.
- Since you’ll be so relaxed and smelling lovely from the Lavender oil (is that even really a thing?) REST. I needed to lay down, uninterrupted, and rest my tired body.
- Take Ibuprofen or Tylenol for the pain.
- I wrapped my left breast in a potato shavings tincture. I shaved up a potato, layered it where the clog was, and wrapped it in saran wrap! Sounds weird, but it felt amazing. The cold pieces helped relieve some of the burning. I know Mamas who also use cabbage leaves. Do what feels good!
- Refrain from wearing anything tight. Go bra-less! 🙌🏻
- I called the Lactation Consultant at Mercy Hospital Mother Baby Center and she instructed me to do all of the above and ALSO... take Lecithin 4x a day until the clogs are resolved. I was skeptical about this (I had read it in another Mom blog) because I didn’t know if this supplement would hurt my supply or be okay for Baby. At this point though, I was willing to try anything. She informed me that Lecithin is a natural fat emulsifier and it helps break the clogs apart and let the milk flow. She also said that I could take 1-2 everyday to keep clogs at bay. I have not had Mastitis since! Knowledge is Power 💪🏽
- This may be an old wives’ tale, but I was told beer helps milk flow faster, and I am a firm believer! Have yourself a nice cold one while you’re pumping. It doesn’t affect the milk quality and will help the milk flow🍻
On a side note, did you know that even if you’re an exclusive pumper you can also still get Thrush (a yeast infection in the nipple or even underneath the breast in the fold)? I did not know this, and I got it. In both places 😫 Again, stabbing, burning pains in the nipples. My doctor suggested Gentian Violet which is an antiseptic solution. It’s purple. And it stains! Proceed with caution: My strategy would be to wet a paper towel, put a few dabs on there, wipe over the nipple, and let dry. If you get it on a counter or sink, a Magic Eraser will get it right off. Tested and approved by Band of Mamas.
Mastitis and Thrush are just other things to add to the overflowing list of things to learn and experience when you bring a baby home… all while you are trying to figure out how to nurse, pump, sleep, be a human, etc. It is a lot.
I hope you found this information helpful! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the above mentioned suggestions 💜
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