I wrote this three months ago when I was in agony, suffering from a severe case of the dreaded infection, Mastitis. I wrote it, hoping to help other women so they don’t have to suffer like I did.
Last night, I woke my husband up at 2am and said, “I think I’m about to die”. This was not me being a drama queen. I was in SO much pain, I actually thought my heart was going to stop.
My left boob was throbbing. Like someone had stabbed it with a blunt knife. My whole body felt like I’d be poisoned. It’s the only way to describe it. This is what mastitis does to you.
Three in ten breastfeeding mothers will get mastitis. I was one of the unlucky ones — struck six times in five months! Each time I was diagnosed, it seemed to get worse. Antibiotics (Flucloxacillin capsules) helped the first couple of times, but this time, the infection was so bad, nothing was working. My (male) doctor told me to “Just push through it, so you can still breastfeed”. I wanted to punch HIM in the boob!
My physio, Alice, came to my rescue. A home visit, because that’s the kind of person she is. She left my house covered from head to toe in breast milk. There was something strangely satisfying about my milk duct opening up and then spraying like a garden sprinkler all over her white top. #wetshirtcompetition
Jokes aside, Adelady is all about sharing, so I’d like to share with you an alternative way to help mastitis. Just so other women don’t have to suffer like I did.
Image: Me, the night before I had my son Alfie.
Please welcome my physio, Alice Adamson…
Mastitis – The one word that puts women off having more children (OK, maybe ‘tear’, ‘forceps’ and ‘peeing your pants when you snort or laugh’ may also be very effective contraceptives). Humour aside, this painful condition is caused by inflammation of the breast tissue, with or without infection and can get very nasty, very quickly. It can be caused by three main factors: infection, engorgement and blocked milk ducts.
Infection often occurs if there is damage to the nipple (i.e. cracked nipples) allowing bacteria to enter the breast. If mastitis is caused by infection, antibiotics are often required. Engorgement occurs when the breast is not fully emptied and the milk can ‘overflow’ into the milk ducts.
It often happens if your baby is not attaching to the nipple effectively or not draining the breast. Blockages in the milk ducts mean there can be a build-up of milk behind the blockage, allowing milk to pool and bacteria to grow. These blockages may be caused by ill-fitting bras and baby-carriers, compression of the breast in sleeping or even by milk that has almost ‘set’ in the breast.
How do you know if you’ve got mastitis? Trust me, you’ll know! Part, or all, of the breast may be painful, tender and hot. There is often a ‘lump’ and you may also experience flu-like symptoms (temperature, chills, sweats, body aches…). So what do you do if you suspect you are developing mastitis?
:: Regular feeding. If this isn’t possible, ensure you’re using a breast pump to try and empty the breast.
:: Heat pack (applied to the breast) before feeding and cold pack after feeding.
:: Pain relief. Paracetamol and anti-inflammatories. Also, ensure you’re getting rest and adequate fluids.
If this doesn’t alleviate the symptoms, physiotherapy can be really helpful. I’ve been treating mastitis for over ten years and find the use of therapeutic ultrasound to open up the milk ducts, as well as massage, can be immediately effective in treating mastitis. It’s not always a ‘pretty treatment’ (think milk sprays) but women walk out of my rooms feeling a whole lot better than when they entered 45 minutes beforehand — and they’ve usually had a giggle in the process.
If you have any questions about dealing with and preventing mastitis, please contact me.
Alice runs her own business Alice Adamson Physiotherapy. With a passion for women’s health, she treats pregnancy and postnatal conditions, pelvic floor dysfunction and provides antenatal education. She works in a private practice in Toorak Gardens, as well as consulting at Burnside Hospital. Alice also has a thriving Pilates business, offering a broad range of classes, in Fullarton and Myrtle Bank.
:: 0403 949 719
:: 2 Moore Street, Toorak Gardens 5065