What to do when you have mastitis

I found breastfeeding my three babies to be one of the best experiences of motherhood so far. Even though it was hard at times, I chose to breastfeed them until their started to crawl. Breastfeeding is full of surprises. When you are about to give up because everything seems to be going wrong, the next minute, things get better and you forget all the problems you had before.

My first baby was close to nine months when I woke up one day really tired and with a terrible pain in the breast. I had skipped the night feed that night because of a small crack which I wanted to let heal. So I initially thought that I had just not slept enough, going to bed too late, and that my breast was just engorged with milk because of my skipped feed. But when I looked at it more closely, I noticed that the area around my nipple was all red. I realised something was wrong. I booked an appointment with my gynaecologist. Even getting there was a struggle. I could hardly walk as every step was causing excruciable pain.  

My gynaecologist told me that I had mastitis. She explained that mastitis is an infection in the tissue of one or both of the mammary glands inside the breasts. It is in fact quite common, occurring in approximately 10 percent of breastfeeding mothers.
She gave me antibiotics and sent me home to rest. She recommended continuing to breastfeed or express as much as possible, and to apply some cold compresses, cabbage leaves or soft white cheese on the breast to relieve the pain. OK, soft white cheese might sound a bit gross, but I tell you, it works! She also recommended that I change bra to one without underwire as this could block the milk flow. 


Dr Jeanne p. Spencer from Pennsylvania says that “continued breastfeeding should be encouraged in the presence of mastitis and generally does not pose a risk to the infant”. In fact, it can help you recover faster.

One thing certain is that mastitis is very painful. So if it happens to you, don't hesitate to ask for help from your partner, parents and friends, so that you can get as much rest as possible. Also make sure you get professional help by contacting:


Did you also have mastitis? We would be grateful to read your story in the comment box below to help other mums. Thank you!

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