Mom's Scary Photo Shows Breastfeeding Is Natural -- but Not Easy

breastfeeding mom mastitis
mamaclog/Instagram

Plenty of new moms hope to nurse their infants, but this labor of love often proves more challenging than any of us may anticipate. That's why one mama shared her harrowing breastfeeding experience on Instagram to give other moms an honest look at the many obstacles that can make breastfeeding a true struggle.

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Instagrammer MamaClog shared her ordeal with mastitis, a breast condition which results in pain, swelling, redness, and irritation caused by an infection. Not only does she go into explicit detail about the events leading up to her getting mastitis, but she also posted a photo of her breasts that offers a look at how truly awful this condition is.

This poor mama. Take a look:

mom with mastitis
mamaclog/Instagram

More from CafeMom: 6 Common Breastfeeding Ailments & How to Treat Them

In her caption, she explained what it was like to get mastitis, but she also detailed the events leading up to her illness that prove breastfeeding is often a lot harder than it looks:

This is mastitis. After hitting the 1 year breastfeeding mark last Sunday I felt compelled to share my story. Breastfeeding did NOT come easy for me. My milk came in after 5 days. I wasn't aware that it could take that long, I didn't even necessarily know what 'milk coming in' meant. (Nobody ever taught me.) I was the only mother breastfeeding on my ward. One women did try to breastfeed, but switched to formula after 12 hours because she 'had no milk' (nobody taught her either.)

Her words serve as a reminder of how important both information and education can be for moms who wish to nurse -- especially for the first time.

She continued:

While the other babies slept with full bellies, my son screamed and cried attached to my breast through the night. (What was cluster feeding? Nobody told me) When I got home, problems started to arise-my nipple literally cracked in half. I have never felt such pain, I dreaded every feed, but persisted with tears in my eyes until I was healed. (Nobody taught me that breastfeeding could be painful, nobody taught me what a good latch looked like)

Wow, we can't even imagine how much pain she must have been in, and yet, she persevered for the sake of her son. 

The fact that there's often so much shame surrounding breastfeeding in public only made this mom's situation worse:

When feeding my son out in public I would either go to the bathroom or pump at home and feed him with a bottle. Because I felt embarrassed and as though I would make others uncomfortable. This resulted in clogged ducts and engorgement. (I feed freely in public now, and have done for a long time. Fuck this backwards society!)

Little did she know, the worst was yet to come. She details the incredibly frightening symptoms of mastitis she experienced:

Then came mastitis. I remember waking up at 3am shivering, putting on my dressing gown and extra blankets and trying to feed my son. The pain. It was excruciating. I was shaking and sweating but freezing to my bones. At 5 am I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I needed to go to the hospital. We got my stepdad, a doctor, he took my temperature and said it was slightly high, but to take a paracetamol and try and sleep. 7am comes, I've had no sleep, and now I'm vomiting, he takes my temp again. 40 c. I had developed sepsis overnight ... I was rushed to resus, given morphine, anti-sickness and the strongest antibiotics they could give, and separated from my baby for two nights. I was Heartbroken.

More from CafeMom: How to Treat Mastitis While Breastfeeding

So not only was she fearing for her life, but she'd also been separated from her newborn. She cuts to the heart of the issue here, which is that new moms rarely get the support, help, and education they need to have a successful breastfeeding relationship with their babies: 

During my hospital stay, I repeatedly asked for a pump, because if I didn't drain the breast my mastitis would get worse. ( and it did) The nurses response was 'we're having trouble finding one as we don't get many breastfeeding mothers here'

There's a lot more to this story but my point is, the lack of support and education surrounding breastfeeding is just terrible. And I don't mean in terms of relaying the benefits of breastmilk and handing out lactation support leaflets. I mean general education, about the basics of breastfeeding, about cluster feeding, about the problems that can arise and what to do, how to spot them and how to remedy them.

We admire this mom for not only surviving this awful time but turning around and trying to help others avoid the same fate. 

Breastfeeding is HARD, it needs to be taught and it needs to be learned. Just like walking, talking, reading and writing- it may be natural, but it does not always come naturally.

Amen! As she points out, so many professionals advocate "breast is best" but then leave moms on their own to figure out just how to feed their babies. 

Fortunately, one year later, this mom and her son are doing great. While we're certainly sorry that any woman should ever have to experience this -- especially to the point that MamaClog did -- it's important to continue sharing our stories to educate others and let struggling moms know they aren't alone.

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