• petrinaohalloran

Mastitis- Know the signs

After contacting mastitis for the 3rd time in 5 months I thought I was an expert on the topic until I read about a woman who went through 40 occurrences from 5 pregnancy’s. I think she at least deserves a tiara if not her own iron throne!

Knowing the symptoms and acting fast are the best ways to recover quickly. My 3rd occurrence happened the day before Christmas Eve and was my worst one yet.

I started shivering uncontrollable to the point my husband wanted to call an ambulance. Of course I knew immediately, I said “it’s fine I just have mastitis again”! I was also vomiting this time which had not happened before. The onset of mastitis happens so quickly, one minute your talking having a cup of tea, the next minute excruciating pain in the breast. The breast pain feels like engorgement, or if you are wore a tight bra for the day. It can be soothed with massage, hot compress or a hot shower over the painful area. Old wives tales will also advise of applying cabbage leaves to the area, although I have yet to try this. Other symptoms can feel like flu, with pains in my bones, in my back and just difficultly feeling comfortable at all.

The best course of action is making a GP appointment immediately to get a course of antibiotics as usually nothing else will help treat it completely. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, try see an alternative doctor if your own GP is not available as delaying can lead the infection to get much worse.

I was in Ireland when it occurred this time so my alternative to my own GP in the UK was an out of hours service operated by locums. I talked through my symptoms over the phone and explained how I had it before and knew what I was dealing with. I was lucky the doctor agreed to issue a prescription which my husband could collect as I was so weak I couldn’t get out of bed.

I spent as much time as I could resting while my husband and extended family looked after Isobel. Unfortunately it is best to continue to breast feed on the infected breast to help clear the blockage. The pain is extreme but after a day of antibiotics it starts to get less severe. I stayed in bed and every time Isobel needed a feed my husband brought her to me. There is no way I could ever recover from any mastitis infection I have had without help, so try not do it on your own. I was so weak I could not even lift Isobel out of the cot.

After about 5 days trying to rest I started to feel better, but I still feel tired now as a result and it’s almost two weeks since the infection. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of bed rest!

So know what to look for;

  1. Shivering uncontrollably and feeling really cold

  2. Pain in the breast which may be hard and swollen

  3. Extreme tiredness, and not just tired from sleepless nights

  4. Red like inflamed colour on infected breast

  5. Pus like substance from nipple

At each occurrence of mastitis I look back and think how could I have prevented it and each time I don’t think I could. I know certainly this time I felt extremely run down from travelling and some late nights may have contributed. It is worthwhile checking that your latch is still correct if you have contacted it for the first time. If you have the resource to see a lactation consultant I would highly recommend it.

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