How I Conquered Mastitis

October 25, 2011

This is kind of like a weekend recap, except that I’m going to be talking about LAST weekend, and the week before that, so it’s pretty much ancient history by  now, and I wouldn’t even bring it up but that a couple important things happened that I want to tell you about.

(Also, I had a really good weekend THIS weekend including sleeping, reading, working on the blog and reading blogs, bookstore browsing, a trip to Target with my husband where I bought these for the second time since my first pair got chewed up and a couple adorable outfits for Meredith because I couldn’t resist. But all that is nothing compared to the weekend before, which is what I’m about to tell you about now.)

Let’s start on a Tuesday, almost two weeks ago now. I had been feeling a bit congested for a few days, and since Meredith had been too I figured she passed something on to me and it would either be gone soon or get worse and I’d stay home a day or two and rest and then it would go away. That day at work I was training to be charge nurse so I was helping to make the next day’s assignment. We were overstaffed, so my manager suggested I take the next day off, and who am I to refuse such an offer?

Literally as we were discussing this I became acutely aware of a pain in my left breast that had been steadily increasing over the past hour. It was the end of the day and my first thought was that I needed to pump and SOON. I went to do so, and while I was pumping I began to feel a mild chilling sensation. I took my temperature and it was normal, but the breast pain was worse.

I left for the day, and since I park remotely it takes me about 20 minutes to get to my car. During that time I began to chill harder and harder. I became so weak that it took all my strength to keep walking, and my skin began to crawl. Stepping into my hot car that had been sitting in the sun all day was relief; in fact I even wanted to turn on the heater. But I still had an hour to drive.

The breast pain was excruciating, the chills left me in agony. At the time I was almost as miserable as I was during labor. I could barely stand having clothes on and I think I nearly passed out several times. Looking back I should have pulled off the side of the road and had someone come pick me up, but I made it home safely somehow. The first thing I did was take my temperature. It was taking too long to finish so I pulled the thermometer out early. 103.17. I already had a hot shower running but at that point I reconsidered. Instead I just got in bed and had Meredith nurse on the affected side.

That night was a blur. My mom came over, and I know that she and David worked tirelessly to get a doctor on the phone to call me in some antibiotics. I slept, took Tylenol, kept a heating pad on my breast, and nursed Meredith. In the morning I felt better but still mildly feverish. It got better, but then came back in the evening. But by Thursday night I felt mostly recovered, only congested again, and I went in to work on Friday. It still took several more days and lots of heat and massaging for the redness, swelling, and hard knot to subside in my breast, but I came out on the other side and I didn’t give up on breastfeeding.

After the infection, I noticed that my supply took a drop. Not a drastic one, but I was worried because I had slowly used up my freezer stash and I needed to keep pumping enough to send to daycare with Meredith. But not pumping often enough was probably the reason I got a blocked duct to begin with, which is what put me at risk for infection coupled with some cracks in my skin. So for a few days I had to spend some extra quality time with the pump and even brought it home to pump in the middle of the night once. I redoubled my efforts to pump three times while at work, and since then I have noticed an improvement.

So that’s how I conquered mastitis. It was way worse than I ever imagined, and I really hope I’m not one of those women who are just predisposed to it. I’m going to work hard to prevent it in the future, and I’ll be hyper vigilant to the signs.

I was going to tell you about my brother’s wedding, which happened right after I dealt with this, but now that I think about it I don’t want to associate the two things. So that will be another post, coming soon. :)

Posted in: motherhood

Comments on How I Conquered Mastitis

  1. 1

    From Tabaitha:

    Way to go girl! That seriously is one of the worst things that happened when nursing. I had it in noth breasts and couldn’t push through. With my second ,I was so worried it would happen again but I was more aware and was able to nurse for a year. Glad you are feeling better.

  2. 2

    From Holly:

    Glad you’re feeling better! I’ve never had full blown mastitis but I had clogged ducts a couple of times – it was so painful, I can’t imagine how awful mastitis must have been!

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