Why You Don't Want to Get Mastitis

BreastfeedingBefore my baby was born, I interrogated every mother I knew about what I could expect when breastfeeding.

That's why when I woke up not feeling right one morning, spiked a fever by lunch, and had a golf ball-sized lump towards the top of my breast by nightfall, I knew I probably had mastitis.

I did everything I should: I called my doctor and got antibiotics. I massaged my breast in the shower to release any clogged ducts. I tried to keep nursing (or in my case nursing and pumping) through the night. Only that wasn't working and I was starting to feel like I was going to die. I had chills, body aches, my head was throbbing, and the lump was growing larger. 

Of course, being a weekend, there were no office hours and I didn't think urgent care was the best idea. I had my doctor paged. She called me back and agreed. Minutes later I was packing for the hospital.


We'll never know for sure, but the on-call OB/GYN who examined me at the hospital thought that while I tried valiantly to pump and breastfeed through the mastitis, all that extra milk production actually made the clogged duct more infected and prevented the antibiotics from getting through. Most cases could be resolved with a course of antibiotics, but I was the exception to the rule.

That meant I had a one-way ticket to a hospital bed with a complimentary IV. If that didn't work, by the looks of it, I was well on my way to an abscess. Which, they explained to me, may need to be surgically drained. Horrified by that idea, I put on the horrible gown and prepared to eat some jello.

I spent 24 hours in the hospital getting antibiotics and fluids. The nurses were kind and tried to encourage me to think of it as a mini vacation, but that was the LAST place I wanted to be just weeks after having a baby. After pleading to go home to my baby, the doctors reluctantly agreed after my fever finally broke. I had to agree to visit my regular doctor on Monday and receive at least two days' worth of antibiotic injections. I did, and it worked, and finally, my breast returned to its normal shape, color, and size.

I was so paranoid I was going to wind up going through that again, but luckily I really was the exception and I never did.

Have you ever suffered through a mastitis infection? Were you able to treat it with antibiotics? What was the most uncomfortable side effect you experienced?


Image via Daquella manera/Flickr

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