A Healing Journey

6 comments

Two years ago at this time, I was suffering from a severe case of mastitis.  For those of you who do not know what that is, breastfeeding moms can get this infection of the breast which results in breast enlargement, inflammation and pain (ow, is all I can say just thinking about it) of the breast tissue, and flu like symptons, such as high fever, aches, and chills.  Mia was only about 4 or 5 weeks old at the time and it was a living hell.  In the beginning we had no idea what was going on.  I felt sick and could not get out of bed for a week and Mia would scream for hours and hours even though she would nurse for an hour or two! For some reason, my daughter was unable to nurse on the infected breast and boy was she hungry!

I know this not the most glamorous of topics, but I feel this is something I HAVE to share because I could not find any sort of help! If I could help one mama out there, I’m happy 🙂 Anyway, what I read online DID NOT help and my OB was baffled as to how to help me without resorting to the use of antibiotics. I really, really did not want to be on antibiotics. Then my OB gave me the name of a certified lactation consultant to see if she could help me. I followed the lc’s advice and the healing began immediately (after I had been suffering for almost two weeks!). Here’s what she suggested:

Castor Oil Compresses

Take castor oil (organic if possible)and squeeze oil about the size of a quarter onto a cloth or towel. I used my daughter’s fleece burp cloths. Place in microwave and heat for about 20 seconds or just long enough to warm it.  Apply compress on the affected area on the ailing breast for twenty minutes. Repeat throughout the day as necessary.

Castor oil has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin and relieves inflammation. Also, for cracked, swollen nipples, organic unrefined coconut oil works miracles!

Homeopathy

It was also recommended I use homeopathic remedies by Boiron. they are little blue tubes found in a natural food store, Whole Foods, or online.  I was skeptical because I had never used these products before. But again, I was so sick I was ready to try anything. These worked for me and I took them every half hour for a total of six doses:

Phytolacca decandra helps with inflammation and plugged ducts.

Belladonna for high fever.

Arnica for pain.

Probiotics

Another healing component is to incorporate probiotics into your diet. Probiotics are known as “good bacteria.” To maintain digestive health and a strong immune system that will ward off infection, it is important to take probiotics daily. Yogurt contains probiotics, but not enough to fight off serious infection. Therefore, I also take probiotics in capsule form. Probiotic supplements are widely sold in drug and grocery stores. I still use the Ayush Aruveda 100b brand and also take my prenatal vitamins since I am still nursing.

When In Doubt – Pump!

Initially, I was so torn about pumping because I received conflicting advice. I was told pumping would artificially boost my supply, that if I bottle fed my daughter she would suffer from nipple confusion, or that bottle feeding is not sterile. Ugh! I wish I had ignored it all and trusted my gut enough to know thaty daughter was starving and my breast was so plugged up that the logical thing to do was to pump!

My Disclaimer

I am not a physician, nurse, or certified lactation consultant. If you find yourself suffering with this ailment, try these tips and also seek the advice of your healthcare provider. I consulted with my OB while doing this.

Happy Ending

This painful experience became one of my greatest triumphs as a mom. It turns out that my daughter suffered from posterior tongue-tie which is why she was unable to latch and nurse properly and therefore drain the breast while nursing. We quickly had that fixed. I began my journey of researching alternative ways to heal myself and my family. I learned to trust my instinct as a mother. Most importantly, my desire to help other mothers out there increases everyday, with every new discovery!

6 comments on “A Healing Journey”

  1. Thank you ladies for your suggestions! Who knew cabbage isn’t just for coleslaw – lol. It’s funny how the best remedies are found in mother nature. I tried the warm water compresses and took long hot showers for hours and hours – but it was the castor oil that really did the trick for me. And yes, I totally learned that I needed to take care of myself – a healthy mama yields a healthy baby 🙂

  2. Oh, yes, I’ve had this a few times and it just plain sux! I’m so sorry you had to suffer for 2 weeks before you got relief ~ that is SO HARD when you have a newborn. I got my first bout of this when my first son was about 9 days old. Thankfully my midwife knew just what it was and how to handle it. She recommended much of what you said and also some other tips. This is what I did:

    * massage the breast as much as possible (usually it starts with a plugged duct) and have the baby nurse on that side as much as possible and in different positions (maybe your plugged duct was in such a way that milk couldn’t come out?)

    * Take Vitamin C every couple of hours along with echinecea.

    * (this one is funny but it does the trick!) fill a large bowl with hot water and position yourself in such a way so that your breast(s) are submerged for 10 or so minutes.

    * heating pads.

    * using cabbage leafs on the infected breast (as a compress)

    I’ve read that mastitis happens when we are not taking enough time/care for ourselves. I know this was true for me. It’s so easy to overlook our own needs when we have a small baby. With my third baby I’ve been VERY GOOD at taking care of myself and (knock on wood) I haven’t had mastitis or a plugged duct.

    THANK YOU for bringing up this very important issue! ♥

  3. What great advice!! I’m a few years past breastfeeding, but I remember those painful knots in my breasts that would be sooo painful. I never tried homeopathic remedies because I pumped with a vengence and they would go away after a day or two. But, there is nothing like the feeling of release when you finally become unplugged!

    BTW… I never tried coconut oil, I used grapeseed oil. I used it as lube in my pumping horns as well.

  4. Even though I’m past my nursing time, this is great to know for other mamas. When my first son was weaning, I had to put cabbage leaves on my breasts because they were so swollen and sore. I felt ridiculous doing it but it definitely helped!

  5. I forgot to mention….castor oil compresses also work on a colic-y baby’s tummy too. I would apply them to Mia’s tummy and she’d do a great big poop and would feel better 🙂

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