Not Even a Major Surgery for Mastitis Could Stop This Mom From Breastfeeding

mom with mastitis
Some might look at this photo and just see a boob. Maybe those who are familiar with breastfeeding might notice the breast pump first. But when Jenna Blackley looks at this hospital selfie, all she sees is a survivor of a six-week battle that no new mom should have to endure and yet many can relate to.


Jenna -- who is married to MLB pitcher Travis Blackley -- says her journey began when her baby struggled to latch after birth. She and little Bodhi had multiple visits with lactation consultants, but nothing helped -- and he was consistently losing weight. "Eventually they put me on a regimen to nurse him, then pump, then syringe feed him," she wrote on Instagram. "This process would take me two hours and they wanted me to do it every three hours ... so if you can imagine we were barely sleeping, if at all."

woman with mastitis shares story of breastfeeding
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Despite all of her best efforts, Bodhi was still dropping weight and didn't start gaining again until she began supplementing formula. At the same time, they also found out that Bodhi was tongue tied. A doctor could only clip a small amount without risking damage and warned Jenna that this procedure wouldn't solve their breastfeeding issues. "Meanwhile, I was diagnosed with mastitis and was on antibiotics," she wrote. "If you don't know anything about mastitis, just know that it is excruciatingly painful, makes your whole body ache, causes horrible headaches and some of the worst fevers and night sweats I've ever had."

After two weeks of antibiotics, Jenna's mastitis didn't go away. She had to start different medications and see a specialist, who later admitted her to the hospital to operate after an attempted extraction. "The surgery successfully got out three large abscesses from my right breast. The incision went through my nipple but the abscesses were so large she had to use an ultrasound during the surgery," she wrote. "She also had to make another incision on the right side my my breast to get the rest of it. So I'll have a nice scar to remember all this!"

jenna blackley
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Following the surgery, the incisions had to remain open and packed so that the milk could continue to drain out for an unknown recovery time. "The heartbreaking news of it all --  I have to stop nursing on my right side completely, nor can I pump. I've tried so hard and done everything I could to exclusively breastfeed my baby, so when I originally stated that I see the survivor of a six week battle in the above photo -- that's exactly what I meant," she wrote. "This mastitis has torn me down, taken away the ability to breastfeed on one side, kept me in the hospital and away from my baby for four days ... and yet I'm focusing on the positive and that is that I still have my left breast, it's healthy and it's producing milk to make my little guy big and strong."

breastfeeding mastitis

For those who have ever given up on breastfeeding "so easily," Jenna now knows why: Nursing is extremely difficult, and it doesn't always work out the way that you had hoped. "I am beyond proud of myself for facing all of these issues and still giving it a try," she wrote. "My nickname in the hospital is Wonder Woman, and I'll take it."

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