Mastitis- Know the signs

Mastitis- Know the signs

After contacting mastitis for the 3rd time in 5 months I thought I was an expert on the topic until I read about a woman who went through 40 occurrences from 5 pregnancy’s. I think she at least deserves a tiara if not her own iron throne!

Knowing the symptoms and acting fast are the best ways to recover quickly. My 3rd occurrence happened the day before Christmas Eve and was my worst one yet.

Symptoms may include:

  1. Breast Pain: Typically, mastitis causes localized pain or tenderness in the affected breast.

  2. Swelling: The affected breast may appear swollen, red, or warm to the touch.

  3. Fever: Many women with mastitis develop a fever, often accompanied by chills and flu-like symptoms.

  4. Breast Engorgement: The affected breast may feel engorged or unusually full.

  5. Breast Lump: Sometimes, a lump or hard spot may develop in the breast.

  6. Nipple Discharge: In some cases, mastitis can cause nipple discharge, which may be pus-like or contain blood.

  7. Flu-like Symptoms: These may include fatigue, body aches, and general malaise.

It's important for women experiencing these symptoms to seek medical advice promptly, as mastitis can worsen if left untreated. 

The best course of action is making a GP appointment immediately to get a course of antibiotics as usually nothing else will help treat it completely. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, try see an alternative doctor if your own GP is not available as delaying can lead the infection to get much worse.

I was in Ireland when it occurred this time so my alternative to my own GP in the UK was an out of hours service operated by locums. I talked through my symptoms over the phone and explained how I had it before and knew what I was dealing with. I was lucky the doctor agreed to issue a prescription which my husband could collect as I was so weak I couldn’t get out of bed.

I spent as much time as I could resting while my husband and extended family looked after Isobel. Unfortunately it is best to continue to breast feed on the infected breast to help clear the blockage. The pain is extreme but after a day of antibiotics it starts to get less severe. I stayed in bed and every time Isobel needed a feed my husband brought her to me. There is no way I could ever recover from any mastitis infection I have had without help, so try not do it on your own. I was so weak I could not even lift Isobel out of the cot.

After about 5 days trying to rest I started to feel better, but I still feel tired now as a result and it’s almost two weeks since the infection. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of bed rest!

So know what to look for;

At each occurrence of mastitis I look back and think how could I have prevented it and each time I don’t think I could. I know certainly this time I felt extremely run down from travelling and some late nights may have contributed. It is worthwhile checking that your latch is still correct if you have contacted it for the first time. If you have the resource to see a lactation consultant I would highly recommend it.

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