This is a personal account of how I managed my recent Mastitis/blocked duct naturally. I am a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath and I encourage anyone going through the same thing to seek advice from their healthcare provider. Please use this as information but it in no way dictates how you should also manage yours. Everybody is different and may need different advice.
Thursday night I was putting my very long and lean 2y 7 month old to bed. Sometimes she needs a cuddle to go to sleep, sometimes she doesn’t. This night she did, I fell asleep too. It must have been 20 mins tops, she had her head on my left shoulder and most of her weight on my chest. When my husband woke me up I remarked that my left boob was a bit sore and tense. Thought nothing of it and decided to go to sleep. I woke up about an hour and a half later just as my husband was going to sleep and was really cold. Now I know we have the aircon on but it was 33 degrees outside and our aircon is set to 25 degrees for our newborn. We also have a 11 tog quilt on the bed and I was freezing. I mean FREEZING.
I grew up in Hong Kong, I do not deal well with the cold. I find it really hard to get warm and stay warm, my body is awesome at cooling down ( even recently at almost 42 weeks pregnant I was still able to remain somewhat ambient in 33 degree heat). So when i’m cold, I get sore. This time I was shivering from head right down to little toe, every muscle. I was a little confused. I have never had mastitis before, my previous pregnancy and post natal period was much more about emotional upheaval than any physical upheaval. This was another new experience for me. I will get onto my birthing experience soon- I know there are people that want to hear about my home birth and I promise its coming. Needless to say there have been a lot of firsts this pregnancy, first son, first baby in HK, first at home, first to go over 36 weeks, first to need oxygen when he’s born but as I say into that in more detail later. First Mastitis. First real-honest to god-fever too. How did this all happen so fast?
My first instinct was to get warm, or even hot. Bath. Got into a really hot bath, with some difficulty as I was shaking uncontrollably. The pain of shaking uncontrollably is intense. Childbirth is intense but at least you get some breathing time, this gave me nothing for a good 30 mins. I had the words of my midwife in my head, call me with any flu symptoms. So I said after I have this bath I have to call her (I promise I said that) I had my rock (the husband) giving me the homoeopathic remedies that fit best (Its best you consult a homoeopath or in the uk call the hotline) I used Phytolacca 200c and Hepar Sulph 30c in a water bottle along with rescue remedy for the shock and pain. I used the shower bit of the bath on the left side as warm as I could and that abated the shivering somewhat, enough to catch my breath for a bit and concentrate. I knew I needed to feed my son and that would get me through this. I knew it would work it through and lower the fever naturally.
It made me think about all this old wives stuff that still gets churned out about lowering a fever. If I lowered my fever those shakes would definitely been worse and I have heard stories about febrile convulsions after lowering a fever to quickly- it made sense. The WHO or NICE guidelines do not recommend lowering a fever through use of pharmaceuticals or cold or tepid sponging or baths. I now know through personal experience this course of action went against anything my body needed. Same as pain killers, why take a pain killer, my body was telling me to stop and rest. That’s what pain is for. My son was 2 weeks old and I had already done too much. I was getting the message loud and clear and I would continue to get that message over the next few days, I couldn’t and wouldn’t suppress it with a pain killer.
Slowly and in difficulty because I was still shaking from the cold I managed to get out of the bath and get dressed to feed my boy(socks, long layers and blankets, even over my head-man I must have looked weird. The air con was obviously also very much off I hasten to add.) No skin but my face could be exposed as it was cold. I started to feed. I will say it again this whole experience was already longer than my childbirth and way more intense. I was trying to breathe to calm down, to relax the shakes to dampen the pain and it was starting to work. Having the boy feeding was helping, hurting, but undeniably helping. Just as I was going to get the hubby to call the midwife, all of a sudden I was so hot! I knew that was a good sign! I let the hubby go to sleep- it was 2.30 am by this time (My daughter went to sleep just after 9- for your time scale!) A hour later with a sleeping baby and me tearing off the layers covered in sweat, I finally went to sleep myself. I used a red cabbage leaf on my boob to try and draw it out while my boy slept, it also helped to cool me down. However the pain on the left side left little options for sleeping positions and I struggled to get much sleep that night especially when a certain long limbed little girl crawled in at 4.30 and sprawled over most of the available space!
Anyway- what frightened me the next day was how useless I was to look after the kids- the baby, no problem he was my medicine. The 2 year old; no chance. I ached all over and every time I went to get out of bed- the body said ‘no chance’, the raging headache said ‘sleep, do not move again’. Thank goodness my rock is not working right now and is amazing with both of my children, at cooking and mostly at looking after me- he is seriously a rock. I was able to get some sleep- I am taking probiotics twice a day to try and ensure there was no infection, arnica 200c for the aches, bruising and to kick start the healing together with vitamin C to help promote and support healing. I continually poured water in forms of fennel tea, hot water, lemon honey and ginger and just neat down my throat constantly. Most importantly I stayed in bed. I maintained a low grade fever on and off for most of the day(took a belladonna 200c) but the shivering had long gone and sleep was the medicine. The side lying feeding position was a great help. Gently pressing on the painful hard bits helps too
I did much of the same on Saturday. I was feeling better in myself and not so weak but still really tired and I decided to try and pump out the left to see if there was any puss or blood I needed to be concerned about. There wasn’t. I finally let my midwife know and was relieved to know I was doing the right stuff; instinctively. I was starting to be a little proud of myself and of natural remedies. I continued with the arnica and added in some silica. I even had a shower and used the shower head with the warm water to warm up the left side and help with the flow.
Feeding was not as painful- except at the beginning- holy crap that makes you gasp and then some! I have a high pain thresh hold but I was definitely not looking forward to the left sides turn! (you have to feed from both sides to make sure the other side doesn’t then turn on you!). After a couple of seconds it eases off and is bearable so not so bad. It even wasn’t so sore to the touch. I even managed to get up for dinner on sat (have to note here that even with little appetite I made sure I ate every meal- so important when breastfeeding and when ill. Mostly smoothies and soups for the first day but more substantial salmon and broccoli and then back to normal sat and sun).
Sunday morning I felt like me again. I knew I had to give it one more day before contemplating doing anything so stayed in bed again Sunday. Today (Monday) it’s a typhoon and a terrible day- an indoors day. Even Nature is telling me to chill out. I really wanted to go to the Book Fair (I don’t really have a reason- I get really bad cabin fever and itchy feet!!!) Yesterday I started taking Silica (alongside the arnica probiotics, and vitamin c although just taking them once a day now) to try and help push out any residue. I even slept slightly on the left side last night to try and ease the consequent neck pain. I felt ready to share- I hope it has been helpful.
As an update, after a week the inflammation followed the law of cure and moved outwards. This movement although positive hardened and partially inverted my nipple making a latch almost impossible. For a couple of days I was able to help with some feeds using a nipple shield but then was reduced to having to express until this was too painful. For 24 hours I couldn’t do anything to the left side I was in so much pain. What kept me strong was knowing conventional medicine had nothing for me but antibiotics and by this time it was surface pain. I had identified it as becoming a breast abscess. I knew the pain was the pressure of the waste (pus) pressing against the skin. I just had to wait for it to rupture.
By now it had been 2 weeks and pain is a very depressing state to be in. I had an emotional release. Louise Hay identifies emotional connections to physical ailments and through this I learnt what I had been told several times in the last 6 months. I tend to take on the responsibility for everyones happiness. From my husband and toddler to my dad, friends and lately even people I have just met. I was literally running on empty. So I let go. I balled my eyes out and had what I felt were panic attacks. But I let go. I told my nearest and dearest that I was not responsible for their happiness and if they weren’t happy with something they had to deal with it themselves, I had me to look after.
The next morning the abscess burst. The pain relief was instant. I mean instant- gone immediately. Without wanting to get gruesome, the thickest, greenest pus oozed out for 2 hours continuously and then intermittently for the next 2 days. It was a deep deep wound which a week later has healed into a small scab! The wonder of nature! I am now feeding again (still with the nipple shield to begin with) on the left side and there is a slight size difference in my boobs, but I am confident this will even out. Your body will always provide for your baby so any mums going through this trust that if you can’t feed for a little bit, keep trying your body will adapt for the health of your child. You do not have to stop feeding and I never even thought about topping up with any formula.
I need to add I could never have done this without the support of my family and great homeopath who got back to me pronto even though she is on holiday- thank you Charlotte I am indebted to you!
If anyone wants to share their tips and tricks with me and the other mums, let me know and I will add to this post. A great friend of mine used tumeric to help lower the inflammation.
Here are the links we used right at the beginning-
http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/mastitis/ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Mastitis/Pages/Causes.aspx http://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/herbs/natural-treatments
Here as a parting shot are the children who makes it all worth it for me!
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