About a week and a half ago I was drafting a post entitled The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding (watch this space for that one!) which began with the words, I feel incredibly lucky to have – thus far – had quite an unproblematic breastfeeding experience.
Tempting fate there, you might think – and you’d be right: less than forty-eight hours afterwards, that good old hand of fate slapped me with a nasty bout of Mastitis. I won’t go into the whole mechanics of Mastitis (Doctor Google has plenty of info) other than to say that it involves a build-up of milk in the breast, followed by infection.
Now it seems (according to the aforementioned Dr Google) that a lot of the time Mastitis is caused by improper latching-on or missed feeds or other breastfeeding mishaps, but in my case there didn’t seem to be anything unusual. We still haven’t managed to get into a routine, so I can’t be positive about the missed feed thing, but certainly everything seemed normal. No cracked nipples, no engorgement…. The only thing I can think of is that I wore my “daytime” feeding bra to bed, and unlike the “nighttime” feeding bra (Emma Jane, soft, cheap, amazing, here) it had a more rigid band that had perhaps crept up and cut into the breast tissue at the bottom of my boob. That’s certainly where the hard blockage (ugh) seemed to be…
Anyway, cue massive bright red streaks across the breast and extreme flu-like symptoms. Man did I feel ill. And usually, I hate taking antibiotics, because they really don’t agree with my internals, but in this case I hot-footed it to the doctor faster than you could say “tummy upset”. I had waited for twelve hours and my symptoms were steadily getting worse, not better, and I just needed to nip (ha!) the whole thing in the bud. Being ill with a little baby is not fun. And having to breastfeed with a lumpy hot mass of plasticine-breast is just awful – I am going to do everything humanly possible to never get Mastitis again! No more bras to bed – I’d rather launder my sheets daily and wake up soaked in milk than get hot-lump-boob another time!
One thing I didn’t try, actually: cabbage leaves. By the time I had got into a position to be able to go to the shops (husband was working away), the antibiotics had kicked in. But so many readers on A Model Recommends suggested them that they will be my first port of call if I ever have the misfortune of getting Mastitis again. I’ll be stockpiling those cabbages.