Healing Mastitis Naturally: 6 Tried and True Remedies
Breastfeeding. Boy oh boy the emotions this topic holds. I am passionate about all things breastfeeding and love helping mommas along their journey because breastfeeding is just that, a journey! Many choose to share about the joys breastfeeding brings and I am all for this. Breastfeeding positivity is encouraging, but I also know the discouragement it can also bring when only the positive is shared. Expectations are shattered. Then the shame and guilt creep in when breastfeeding doesn't work out. I know from personal experience the hard and complicated side to nursing a baby. The I don't think I can continue on kind of hardships. My goal with this blog is to shed honest light on not only the good parts of breastfeeding but also the hard. I am here to be real and raw with the hopes that sharing such information can give you momma realistic expectations and encouragement along your breastfeeding journey. Because like most things, breastfeeding is not all peachy. And that's ok!
Speaking of hardships of breastfeeding, I am going to share about my past weekend encounter with Mastitis. The beast of breast infections. I want to share 6 natural remedies that are tried and true that can be used before reaching for antibiotics.
WHY NOT ANTIBIOTICS FIRST?
This is personal to each momma but if you have a similar mindset as me, you try to avoid unnecessary medication at all cost. Like hello yes I would not like to kill all my good gut bacteria with antibiotics if I don’t have to. With that said, there is a time and place for antibiotics and if you or your doctor think it’s in your best interest, do it. Listen to your gut. If you don’t want to mess around and just want to take the antibiotics, that is completely understandable. Point blank, you know your body best so act upon what you feel is right. Always.
Mastitis is an infection in the breast, typically caused by a clog within a milk duct, resulting in milk stasis (milk standing still). There can be local and systemic symptoms as well as other reasons mastitis forms such as infection. KellyMom is forever one of my favorite resources for breastfeeding topics. Click HERE to read up on mastitis in greater detail.
This past weekend I got hit with mastitis and let me tell you, this was not my first rodeo. The first time I got mastitis I was three weeks postpartum with a newborn that just got her tongue & lip tie revised. I ignored my initial flu like symptoms, took some Advil and BOOM.. mastitis came knocking at my door that evening. You would think as a lactation consultant I would have been more proactive, but I was also a very exhausted, sleep deprived, first time momma that was not fully there in my head.. if you know you know. That night my husband rushed me to the hospital so I could get treated with IV antibiotics. No fun.
This time around I knew better. My sports bra was the culprit, thank you dear bra for digging in all the wrong ways during my nights sleep. I woke up in the morning with a few plugged ducts, red spots and some soreness. After I nursed my baby and the area didn’t get softer or less sore, I knew this was likely to be more than just a plugged duct. As time progressed I was feeling slightly fluish and I knew mastitis was coming.
In most cases it is ok to wait it out for 12 to 24 hours to see if symptoms get better. If they don’t, call the doctor. If things go down hill fast prior to the 24 hour mark, don't wait and call. I also want to add that I am not a doctor giving medical advice but instead a momma with some mastitis experience. I've managed my symptoms poorly the first go around and better this time so I am here to share the later.
These are the 6 natural remedies I used while I was in the 24 hour waiting period. They truly were essential to my healing process and kept my body as stable as it could be while I was conquering the boob flu!
R E S T. I cannot stress this one enough. Rest Rest Rest. Lay your body down in bed and get some help with your little one. Sleep. Your body needs this time to recharge without the added stress of day to day activities. My husband is currently in school and his schedule is relatively flexible. I was blessed to have him look after our baby while I rested. He brought her to me when she was ready to nurse and kept her occupied the rest of the time. Beyond thankful for his helping hands.
R A W G A R L I C. Ok, so this might not sound appetizing, but garlic is a powerful root vegetable! Garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties that has the ability to fight infection inside or outside of the body. Like wow. A true fighter. What a great alternative to try before taking antibiotics. It’s simple, natural, and has been used since ancient times. I am a garlic fanatic so I eat it raw on the regular. That's normal right? I minced a few cloves of raw garlic and swallowed a spoonful down with water. If you don’t chew it, you can hardly taste it. Try it! It’s not as bad as it seems.. Cheers to raw garlic!
F R A N K I N C E N S E. This is another antibacterial and antiviral superhero that has been used since the Bible times. There is good reason it was gifted to Jesus himself. Frankincense is an essential oil that HEALS. When applied topically it penetrates into the skin and gets into the bloodstream. It is distributed to different organs and works its magic. I combined a couple drops of frankincense with coconut oil (you can use another carrier oil of choice) and applied it over my plugged duct areas. The next day my lumps where physically smaller and I was amazed. Why I continue to be surprised of its healing qualities I don't know. Frankincense always shows up for me, healing so many parts of my body. So, go ahead and SMOTHER yourself. Give Frank a try, he won’t let you down.
T H I E V E S & L E M O N T E A. Yes more essential oils! Can you tell I love them? Thieves and Lemon, the best duo. Thieves boosts the immune system and has antimicrobial properties. Lemon is refreshing and uplifting, it makes anything taste better! I warmed up some water and put a couple drops of each. This combo is so yummy. It’s a warm and cozy drink that is also so beneficial to your body. I also want to add that it is SO IMPORTANT to use pure essential oils. Not every oil is equal and using oils that are not completely pure can be harmful. I use YoungLiving essential oils because of their strict standards and honorable reputation. If you are interested in learning more about oils, reach out! I'd love to chat.
W A T E R. Chug all the water momma! This may seem like a DUH but it’s key. And if you are like me, you are the worst at remembering to drink water on the daily. Our bodies need hydration and then some, especially when they are under stress. Keep a water bottle next to you at all times because out of sight out of mind ladies. Chug along!
M A S S A G E. Hands-on-Pumping is one of those techniques that sounds lovely but no one really ever tries. There is something so valuable about skin on skin massaging the hard, sore breast tissue. This can be done while baby is nursing or during pumping. If baby is nursing, point baby's chin towards the plugged area to help unclog. May seem silly but it has helped me unclog many of my plugged ducts in the past. A friend lent me her La Vie breast massager created specifically to work out knots and plugged ducts. Let me tell you THEY WORK. Initially I though it was gimmicky, but as I mentioned before, I was desperate so I placed the massager inside of my bra for 20 minutes and done. My stubborn plugged ducts unclogged. Clear as day. The La Vie brand and other breast massagers can be found on Amazon.
I hope these remedies can help a momma desiring to fight off mastitis with nature’s medicine. Our bodies are capable (a.k.a birthed a baby) and you will get through it! This experience, although miserable, yet again humbled me. Sometimes it takes a moment of sickness to remind ourselves to never take our wellness for granted. Constantly reminding myself to be more kind to my body and thankful for my overall health. It's something not always guaranteed.
As always, please reach out to me with any questions or with your mastitis story! I would love to hear from you.