Thanks to my recent experience I now think of two “M” words related to the “B” (boob) word: mama and mastitis. Mama is a given: only a mama can produce milk from her breasts (at the risk of sounding politically incorrect or offending anyone of the trans community I hope you can see through to my intention here, but I digress), but mastitis is a nasty, cringe-worthy word no woman ever hopes to utter. I, unfortunately, have gotten to know that word well.
As bad things often have a tendency to do, it came on fast. I had a plugged duct with Aspen but avoided mastitis, so I knew right away when I had a plugged duct this time. I did everything I did last time: massaged it, hot shower, pumped, fed the babies from my breast. But then another plugged duct popped up the next day and I really started feeling sick. I called my doctor and got started on an antibiotic. That evening, after two doses of antibiotics and consistently taking ibuprofen, I woke up at 2am feeling the worst I ever remember feeling in my adult life (may I remind you I did not use pain medication in labor). I didn’t know how I was going to take care of my babies, every joint ached and I couldn’t sleep because of how terrible I felt. I finally woke up a few hours later drenched in a puddle of sweat so soaked that Jimmy asked me what the heck happened. And this was AFTER two rounds of antibiotics. (Note: I developed four clogged ducts in four days, even after I started the antibiotic.)
My instagram community and my midwife were huge helps to me and gave me all kinds of advice:
- put cabbage on my plugged duct (didn’t try this, it grosses me out)
- drink pure pineapple juice (tried this and it’s delicious, not sure if it works)
- warm compresses (I tried the lansinsoh ones and Rachel’s Remedy from Dr Browns, I loved both but especially Rachel’s Remedy because it uses moist heat therapy and flaxseed)
- warm shower (this is easy as long as the shower doesn’t spray directly on the nipples because it feels like little knives if you’re breastfeeding)
- wide-toothed comb on the plugged duct (haven’t tried this)
- vigorous massage (I do this until it hurts so bad I want to cry)
- electric toothbrush massage (I can do better than this myself)
- colloidal silver water (expensive but a natural antibiotic, I’m taking this but no idea if it’s helping)
- oregano capsules (again, expensive but a stronger natural antibiotic, I’m taking it here and there)
- homeopathics (phytolacca 30c and belladonna 30c, I’m taking them but not sure if they help)
- sunflower lecithin (I’m taking this and will continue to take it; it’s supposed to thin the fat in my milk to prevent clogs now and in the future)
- my antibiotic (I don’t want to be on it because it upsets my stomach but it’s helping so I’m taking it every 6 hours for ten days)
- a probiotic (I take this every morning to combat the good bacteria that my antibiotic is killing)
- lavender oil (I put this directly on my plugged ducts and massage, I think it actually helps)
- going braless (I can only do it at night and I think it helps, but the girls need support during the day)
To top off the stress of feeling like complete ca-ca when I need to care for newborn twins, a toddler, pump, and pack for a two month summer trip to Idaho, my babies’ tummies were completely upset by my “antibiotic milk.” And everyone knows that nursing directly from the breast helps mastitis heal (because babies can empty hard to access clogged ducts better than a pump), and now I can’t feed them from the breast – because when it rains it pours! I had a nice stash saved up so I gave them the old milk (it’s not older than them and they are 4 weeks old!) and froze my “antibiotic milk.” But the problem with this is that not only wouldn’t the old milk last through the course of my treatment but I am traveling and can’t (correction: don’t want to) take frozen milk with me. So over the course of 24 hours and after the introduction of a baby probiotic I slowly reintroduced my “antibiotic milk” until that’s all they were drinking and they are handling it fine. Now all of my stressors are cleared and I can probably start feeling better!
I find it so ironic that I stress over getting better and the reason I probably got sick in the first place was largely due to stress. But now we are hiding out in Idaho and relaxing!
Shop the photo shoot:
boys’ outfits (similar)
I stumbled across your instastory last week in the middle of the night as I lay there restless and almost groaning from the aches of mastitis. It is truly hell! Thanks for sharing your story and letting all us first time sufferers know we aren’t alone! It is such an awful thing! I am on day 8 of the antibiotics and cannot wait to get rid of them! #surviors
I had mastitis with my baby boy a few months back!!! The worse pain! I’d rather give birth again lol glad you’re feeling better!
Hi Meghan, it’s a shame that you haven’t tried the chilled cabbage leaves suggestion as that worked brilliantly for my friend. Hope it settles soon so that you can fully enjoy being a Mum to three
The only problem with cabbage leaves is that it can reduce supply…and being a twin Mom who’s trying to feed 2 babies, she probably doesn’t want to reduce supply. It was probably a good move.
Hi! What probiotic do you take? Hope you’re feeling better!
I had 3 rounds of mastitis in 10 days and eventually it turned into a breast abscess. It was all kinds of terrible. Glad you’re feeling better! All of your babies are beautiful. I had 2 babies within 12 months so I (sort of) know what you’re going through. Now that my toddlers play together, it is so much easier!!! Hope you’re feeling well and enjoying the snuggles.
I love reading your articles and updates. I love how you are so open about your IVF journey. It is a tough road. I have been through five cycles and getting ready to start our 6 th round. Your babies are so cute!
Hi Meghan. I hope your mastitis is a thing of the past but if it happens to return, trying getting ultrasound treatments on the area. It is the same type of ultrasound used in PT but it heats the area much deeper than you can with a heat pack or shower and if you follow with massage/pump your plugs will clear. mastitis is the WORST!
As crazy as it sounds, the cabbage really helps! Chilled cabbage leaves are actually so pleasant and a wonderful, natural compress for the boobs. Yeah, it’s gross and I closed my eyes while putting them in my bra but worked wonderfully.
It’s really so7nds horrible, you poor th8ng, nursing releases those Happy Hormones, I never experienced Mastitis
I had clogged ducts after I had my baby and nothing worked until I found Soy Lecithin. Now I take 2400 mg of it every day for the past 10 months now and haven’t experienced clogged ducts again 🙂 I did find the wide tooth comb really helped too, hurt but worked.
Mastitis is the worst! I ended up with it 3 times with my oldest. I took lecithin every day after it cleared up and that seemed to thin my mil out enough to keep everything cleared up!
Just wanted to share a miracle product for clogged ducts! It’s called Wishgarden Happy Ducts. Used this with caster oil warm compress and it was cleared up within 3 hours. Hope this helps someone!
Thank you for the article I am dealing with mastitis right now and I almost quit breastfeeding numerous times it’s been quite a stressful week but you have given me hope I have been on antibiotics since last Monday they finally switched my antibiotic on Thursday so I feel more on the mend now. I also just started taking sunflower lecithin and i think it is helping!. It’s nice to know when you’re not alone because anybody who experienced mastitis knows that it just does not feel right! I had a natural home birth and mastitis is worse than that! And then on top of the pain ironically one of the best ways to treat it is to continue nursing it ouch ouch ouch! God surely has a sense of humor:-)
I find this post helpful and supportive. Thank you for taking the time to write down and share your experiences, feelings and remedies in the midst of all your pain & stress.
I’m battling with a mastitis for the first time. I have a 2,5 months old boy whom I birthed naturally at home without medication. I am in the valley of decision whether to take the antibiotics or not.
May God bless you and your children/family in Yeshua’s name.