My hospital believes breastfeeding is the best and only choice for moms (which got me mad a little because some moms NEED to use the bottle!). From the moment I had Max in my room, they made him breastfeed with a nipple guard and supplemented with formula through a syringe on my nipple. I did this every 2 hours, even though I had no milk yet. It was tedious and stressful, but I'm glad I did it because Max was able to adapt to the nipple at home a lot easier than Leo (who was in the NICU and bottle-fed).
Yet, no one told me that I needed to breastfeed or pump every 2 hours around the clock. And no one warned me of what would happen if I decided not to empty my breast.
When my milk supply came in, I pumped frequently and stored the excess milk in the freezer. I thought since I had so much, I would take a break and not pump or breastfeed. Plus, I was sleep deprived and starting to not feel good (too much milk in my breast was building up).
I quickly developed chills in my body and nausea and extreme tiredness. I couldn't even get up and walk around because I thought I'd faint from sleepiness. Basically it was like the flu hit me, but maybe a couple times worse. Luckily, my mother-in-law was visiting and took care of the household while I slept all day and all night. I woke up a few times to pump since I was so engorged (another thing I never knew about), but my breasts became engorged within 5 minutes after pumping. My breasts hurt and ached so bad, even after pumping. When I swallowed water, it felt like cold water was running through my breasts and cutting the insides as it ran through my body. Yet, I had to drink... but it hurt so bad every time I almost cried.
I dealt with the Mastitis for about 3 days and then went to my doctor who gave me antibiotics. I then learned from him and the lactation nurse that IF YOU DO NOT EMPTY THE BREAST ON A REGULAR BASIS, YOU WIL DEVELOP PLUGGED MILK DUCTS. The milk builds up behind the breast and starts to get old and grow bacteria. Thus, an infection arises!!
So, I pumped like crazy and swore to myself I would never let this happen again! Well, the twins got thrush in their mouths from the antibiotics and then gave it to me while breastfeeding. They cried like crazy and it took forever for them to eat each time. Plus, my nipples ached all the time and felt raw. It's a beast to get rid of (thrush), but with Nystatin for the twins, a 3-week treatment of Diflucan , and nipple ointment, I gained some relief.
The All-Purpose Nipple Ointment did wonders for me! It's composed of 3 key ingredients:
- Mupirocin (fights bacteria),
- Betamethasone (decreases inflammation), and
- Miconazole Powder (antifungal agent).
If you can, get this script from your doc or lactation nurse. I can't imagine any mom going through breastfeeding without it! Use it whenever you feel thrush coming on.
WARNING: Thrush is a nasty nasty infection and once you have it, you need to treat it aggressively!! Yes, the nipple ointment works, but please remember it is just a part of the cure and if not treated correctly, thrush will remain. Symptoms might fade away for a couple weeks, but it will come back and only get worse. Trust me, you sure don't want to go through the whole breastfeeding in pain. Breastfeeding is meant to be a positive and rewarding experience for you and your baby. If you think you have thrush, see your doctor/lactation nurse.
If you have sore nipples, try Medela Tender Care Lanolin or Lansinoh Lanolin. I can't stand the consistency and smell of either, but it does help. You can buy it online or in a pharmacy department. I recommend Lansinoh Lanolin, just because it doesn't smell. A lot of moms don't like it since it's thicker and harder to get on (and ends up hurting the nipple more while applying it). You might want to try both. Ask for samples from your doctor or lactation nurse.
Also, if you start to feel fluish (chills, nausea, extreme exhaustion, can't stay awake, breasts hurt), increase your breastfeeding sessions and pumpings, even at nighttime. It is perfectly safe for baby to breastfeed while you have mastitis or thrush. It's actually recommended to nurse when you have mastitis or plugged ducts since baby can empty the breast in a much more efficient way than a breastpump could ever do. Within a day or two, you should feel better. You should also breastfeed if you and baby have thrush, but just make sure you're both being treated, otherwise you'll end up passing it back and forth!
The other huge thing to do is DRINK A LOT OF WATER!!!! I read that online, but truly, it helps. Water helps fight infection in any case. I also took extra vitamin C on top of my prenatals. Not sure if that contributed to getting rid of Mastitis, but it didn't hurt.
With MASTITIS, expect any of these symptoms:
- Breast swelling/tenderness
- Breast feels warm/hot
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pain/burning feeling while nursing
- Wedge shaped redness and lump in breast
You should immediately drink a lot of water upon having these symptoms and start increasing your nursing and pumping sessions... like crazy. If you become engorged, your breasts will hurt. You can usually overcome it through frequent nursing sessions, but if you also have flu-like symptoms, you should see your doctor.
With THRUSH, expect any of these symptoms:
- Pink, sore, itching, red, and/or burning nipples
- Blisters on nipples
- Sharp pain in breast while nursing and after
- Baby has white patches in mouth
Make sure your nipples/breasts are dry. Yeast thrives in moisture environments. Air dry after nursing and pumping. Even lay in the sunlight since UV rays kill yeast. I heard tanning helps a lot too (although I avoid tanning). Sterilize all pump parts and bottles. And as always, see your doctor if symptoms get worse and not better!!
Remember, breastfeeding is a precious bonding experience for you and your little one(s). It is supposed to be a peaceful and happy experience that you should look back on and be proud of. Don't let Mastitis and Yeast take that away from you! With this information, I hope you can not just get through it easier, but also prevent it from happening in the future!
Good luck and happy feeding!
Leo & Max passed out after breastfeeding. If only every feeding went this smoothly... :)