Now mastitis is quite possibly the most painful thing I’ve experienced – worse than labour!! I honestly would have done labour daily compared to mastitis. However a few things I used to get through it, include first and foremost a lactation consultant. I would have ended up in hospital having IV antibiotics if I hadn’t found a lactation expert who hand massaged my breasts to get the milk flowing. There is no way I could have done that myself, it was incredibly painful and I had tears running down my face throughout!! With mastitis it’s so important to keep the milk flowing, so making sure the baby was feeding regularly and if not, expressing regularly was essential. Once the breasts were drained I could keep massaging the breasts myself in a warm bath.
I got mastitis because my baby wasn’t latching properly. Therefore I had sore, cracked nipples, which added to the pain! Using a nipple shield properly was vital so that I could keep feeding with a bit less pain. Sometimes nipple shields get a bad press as it’s felt they reduce your milk supply because the baby is not stimulating the areola sufficiently. Make sure you’re taught how to use one though to avoid any issues with this. Once your nipple is healed then you can stop using it. Finding (and being taught) different positions for the baby to feed in was also really important. My lactation consultant did this for me and also I went to a breastfeeding clinic. Have a look for one in your area.
I would also recommend an osteopath that specialises in pediatrics. The osteopath worked on my baby’s neck and jaw, so that he started to open his mouth wider, was happier lying on his side to feed and so generally started to feed better.
Finally do not turn down any help, support, dinners, cuddles…anything that is offered!!! I really could not have got through it without my family around me. Now, it all seems like a distant memory – breastfeeding is easy now and very handy when I’m out and about (the way it was in my head before I ever tried!!), however the three weeks I was working through the mastitis, resulting abscess, and numerous breast appointments did feel like the worst thing ever at the time! It will get better and it should get easier if you make sure you have the right support. Good luck!!!