Cruz and I were two weeks into a breastfeeding rhythm and things were going well. In spite of the nipple soreness, having struggled with Cairo I felt incredibly grateful for how easy the journey had been. In addition to breastfeeding, I’d been pumping steadily in between feeds. I’d just finished a feeding followed by a pumping session when I felt it, a splitting headache and a tingle in my throat.
In the best of times, those are a wicked combination but during the COVID19 pandemic, they could be a death sentence. To say I was concerned was an understatement but I thought I just needed a little rest and I’d feel better. Then the chills started. A quick temperature check confirmed I had a fever as well. This was not good.
Thankfully I’d had a conversation with another breastfeeding mom a few days earlier and she had mentioned she was dealing with a fever from mastitis so though COVID was a concern, I was pretty confident this was mastitis. Earlier that day I’d felt intense pain in my breast and noticed one was rock hard but I’d experienced engorgement with Cairo as well and never felt like I was feeling. A midnight call to my doctor confirmed that it was likely mastitis and he advised that I try my best to get the lumps out before paying him a visit the next day.
The next two hours were painful but my husband, mom, and I worked to get the milk out. Here is what you can do to get rid of mastitis/engorgement
TAKE PAIN MEDICATION
Take paracetamol for the pain you are currently experiencing and what’s about to follow. Paracetamol is breastfeeding safe.
GET YOUR BOOB UNDER HOT WATER.
This can be going in a steaming hot shower or in my case getting a container of extremely hot water. Take a towel soak it into the water and place it against the breast.
MASSAGE THE KNOTS OUT OF THE BREAST.
You can do this in the shower by pushing firmly on the milk ducts near your armpit and pulling toward the nipple. If you are out of the shower and sitting down like I was, you can do the same motion while pumping. I use Medela electric pumps but I’ve heard other women say that a manual pump helps as well.
PUT BABY ON THE BREAST
Put the baby on that breast continuously so that the sucking motion can pull from the ducts and relieve them.
STICK TO YOUR PUMPING SCHEDULE
Once you’ve set a schedule for feeding and pumping, stick to it as much as possible. Your body gets used to that schedule and if you skip pumping or feeding times you are likely to BE “backed up” which leads to engorgement.
I hope this blog was helpful. A video version of this information is available via the Anastarcia YouTube page. Please share this with anyone it can help.