It probably wasn’t hard to figure out my meaning of “Workin’ Girls” if you read the previous post. I hope to wrap up my breastfeeding experience and tips nicely and sweetly here and now! Hubs is upstairs having what sounds like an eventful time bathing our son, so we’ll see how well this goes! Also, after the first part of this post, a friend jokingly told me she “Thought about [my] breasts all day” (you had to be there.)… so shout out to her! Hey Jen 😉 Thanks for reading!
Ok, so I got mastitis, went to incompetent healthcare professionals, how did I get cured? Went to my midwife 1 hour away the next morning after 45 minutes of sleep, she spent 2 seconds looking at my breast (the only medical person in 24hrs. to do so), and said “yea, that’s mastitis, I’ll get you some meds.” She also recommended some better lactation consultants (which I was too lazy to ever seek out), and she was baffled as to why I shouldn’t pump on nurse on both sides each feeding (this really should have started sinking in…).
14 days on an antibiotic safe for breastfeeding mum, making sure to nurse on the infected side, and I was like a new woman. For about 3 weeks. I started getting mastitis again, I think because I was in hurry to get back into the swing of things, having people over, cleaning up the place, etc. and I may have overfed on the right side (still feeding on one breast each feeding, at least I was still tracking in my notebook so I could catch my mistake). I simply called in and requested a prescription this time, they happily refilled, and after a few days thinking I was better and should stop the meds (I know, I know), I was fine…. For maybe a month.
The third and final time I got mastitis was a horrible, terrible, most rotten, whole body in distress, experience. First of all, I think I took the drugs too close together, second of all I wasn’t eating very well, third of all I wasn’t sleeping very much. The day it started coming on again I had tenderness along the outside of the left breast, same as always. I thought maybe my bra was too tight because of engorgement, so I took that off. While baby dozed I got in a hot shower to try and get some comfort. After the shower it was much worse. I now could barely move my arm to get dressed. I made it downstairs, curled up on the couch, dressed in several layers and piled on blankets, and was still cold, praying baby wouldn’t wake up so I didn’t have to lift his delicate little 9lb. body.
Hubs came down for work just in time for E to stir, he took one look at me and said “oh no.” I said I didn’t think he should go to work since I didn’t know how I would take care of the baby all night by myself. The company let D take the night off with the promise that he would work the next day, which proved to be even worse for me. After D left for work, I thought maybe I should get some breakfast before baby wakes up, I felt just the slightest uneasiness in my belly. I barely made it, I managed to pour cereal, but had to stumble to the table before almost blacking out. I was so weak, dizzy, and clammy. It was a terrible feeling. I had no phone around me to call for help, my baby was upstairs going to wake any minute, and I could not move. I sat there, seeing no color in my arms or fingers, feeling the bead of sweat form above my lip, my whole body just weak, my mind barely able to come up with a prayer for help to get back up to my baby. Finally, I managed the strength to have a couple bites of cereal. That gave me the stability to slowly ease my way up the stairs. I still didn’t have any strength in my arms and my left arm was still in so much pain from the blockage in my breast. After maybe 30 minutes, I called the one number I had for someone at my new church to see if there was anyone to help. I was so scared I would drop my baby if I tried to get him out of the bassinet, but of course he would need to eat. A phone tree landed one lady to help for the day. I left a message for hubs too telling him what had happened. I kept the phone with me, made it back downstairs to unlock the door for the church lady, she let herself in, and cared for us all day.
Midwives came to the rescue, the one on call that day also happened to have several natural remedies which finally lead to a cure, I will share below. Between them and the lady from church, I have managed to be one healthy, milking mamma! The lady who took care of had nursed three of her own children who are now about my age. He husband is also a doctor, so they have the skinny on a lot of helpful info. She absolutely, positively sanctioned nursing on both sides for each feeding, and she stayed by my bed making sure I did just that the whole day she took care of us. It actually worked 🙂 She said even if I didn’t pump, if I don’t get enough relief after nursing, I could hand express, in the shower, in the sink, whatever. Just so the breast becomes soft. Finally, I recovered. Finally I got the right help. Praise God! Now, below is a simple list and recap of tips and tricks you can use to 1. hopefully prevent this ridiculous experience from being yours, and 2. to keep producing as long as you would like and need too!
Natural Remedies for curing and preventing mastitis, because as the midwife said, “You would like to get rid of it and keep it gone, right?” Duh.
1. GET A GOOD LATCH, the RIGHT latch!!! I 100% believe my problems began in the hospital. Like I said in the last post, I had done my research, I even saved all the breastfeeding articles and tips from fit pregnancy to help me for when I would come home with baby. For whatever reason, my left breast had issues from the beginning. Maybe it was difficult for me to adjust to holding the baby on that side, maybe it was the nurses continually sticking their fingers down in our business between my nipple and Elijah’s mouth every time we tried… I don’t know. But it was a struggle early on. Remember this rule: Don’t hold baby’s mouth centered on the nipple like in bottle feeding, you want your nipple slightly above the top lip so baby has to tilt head back, and tongue will naturally come under nipple, nipple will go toward roof of baby’s mouth. Make baby take as much of the boob as possible, up to about 1 inch of areola should be in the mouth. This allows baby best feeding, saves you nipple pain, keeps the milk ducts flowing clear!
***On nipple pain, I can happily say I never had cracked or bloody nipples. Even when we were struggling to nurse, I kept that lanolin coming! Lather up ladies!
2. Nurse on both sides each feedings, at least offer the second side. Even if baby falls asleep while eating (because newborns – 3 month old babies especially like to do this), do whatever you must to keep them awake (i.e. tickle the ear, change the diaper, talk or sing something boisterous.) This will help your body regulate.
3. Pump or hand express for comfort at least.
4. Fresh pineapple has an ingredient that can cure mastitis, eat up!!!
5. You’ve seen it other places, you’ll see it here, strait from the midwives mouth and from my personal, grateful experience… CABBAGE LEAVES!!!!!!!! Yea buddy! It’s suggested for relief from engorgement, but it can cure mastitis. Take a cold, clean cabbage leaf, apply it to your breast, and hold it in place with your bra. I’m telling you, the minute this skeptical, but willing to try anything girl put a cabbage leaf on her huge painful boob, the relief was magical! David was there and laughed at me as I said “AHHHHHH….” in a very happy, relieved way. You can chill the cabbage in the fridge or freezer.
6. I’ve heard, but have not tried, a mason jar or some other container, full of steaming hot liquid, with the opening held up to the infected area can help suck out the infection.
7. Warm compresses will ease the pain and help move along the milk. Cold compresses slow down release.
About milk supply… I was very fortunate to have an extremely plentiful supply of milk. I didn’t know if I would ever easily stop producing. The last few weeks though, I’ve had more difficulty making enough to satisfy my baby’s hunger, unfortunately there were a few days I didn’t realize that was the problem. A few things have changed that I believe make a direct contribution to the situation.
1. More solid meals. E is 8 months old and I’ve begun giving him breakfast, lunch, and dinner in solid form. According to the schedule I’ve been following, I’m still supposed to BF morning, mid morning, mid afternoon, and at bedtime. That is a huge cut in feedings for us.
2. I’ve gotten lazy with my water intake. I think I drink half of the daily recommended amount for anyone, and that’s bad. If you’re not hydrating, you’re not producing.
3. I’ve had a huge cut in calories, I just don’t feel like eating, so I’m not eating much, and I’m not being as careful about the health value everyday.
4. I have been sleeping very well. A friend who has BF 3 children for at least one and one half years each, told me she noticed when she didn’t get proper rest, and didn’t at least get to relax a little through the day, her supply would be low.
5. I think psychology plays apart. I’m not enjoying feeding as much, I really did get sick of it. Oxytocin helps produce milk, that’s the chemical that produces “love” and bonding feelings for your baby, and lately when I feed him, I’m just not getting all gushy about it, so I think that’s a big part of not restocking supply. It used to be, every time I brought him to the breast, I would immediately feel the surge of milk let down, if not on both sides, at least the opposite side. Though the pressure could feel really strong, it was also really comforting because I always knew the next meal was ready for my son.
Suggestions for keeping up your supply:
1. The opposite of the list above 😉 No seriously,
2. Water, water, WATER! Hydrate ladies!!! 64 oz. a day and then some. (Like I used to do. I would even drink through the night after night feedings… then I started wanting to sleep more, so skipped drinking to skip peeing).
3. Eat proper, healthy meals, and a few healthy snacks.
4. Take your pre-natal vitamin (yea I’ve been backsliding on that too.)
5. Drink Mother’s Milk Tea whenever you’re feeling like the supply is low. Anytime I could tell I hadn’t made as much, if I had 2-3 cups in a day, I had a great supply for the next several days. Even this initial time of noticing I hadn’t made very much, I pounded that tea, and the milk was back pretty good.
6. I learned from a couple friends that oats can help. I learned from experience that it has to be OLD FASHIONED OATS. Not the quick oats. Not the instant oats. OLD FASHIONED. The kind that look like the whole oat with the slit down the middle, that take 3 1/2 minutes to microwave instead of 1 😉 Back in the day, without knowing it was helping my supply, I was eating banana oat cakes on the regular (recipe below), oatmeal for breakfast, oats in my banana muffins. When I first wanted to re-up my supply I only had quick oats on hand, nothing was happening. I tried the old fashioned oats, I noticed improvement by the end of the day.
7. I have a friend who swears by an alfalfa supplement. You could give it a go.
What I’ve learned from my new experience of having a low supply, it’s a real issue women go through. When a woman is giving her baby formula, she’s not giving up, she’s just giving her baby the best nutrients she can produce. Two days ago, after squeezing my breast to test for milk and seeing little evidence, I gave my son formula and was so thankful I could give him a meal at all. He took it like a champ and was satisfied.
Dressing for success with out the expense:
One of my big questions before having my son, is ‘What were my mom friends doing about nursing clothes?’. None of my friends were buying nursing clothes. Babble has a great selection on suggestions for how to dress for nursing, and I have some of my own! A friend asked me if I liked any one nursing bra in particular. I had bad experiences with nursing bras. The lady who took care of me with my last mastitis issue, brought enlightment here as well. Wear a regular bra and pull your boob out of the cup. Amazing. And it works! I like Victoria’s Secret multi-wear, and the racer back. They come in DD, and DDD now!!! (of course with my supply down, I’m pretty much back to my old itty bitty titty holders 😉 )
1. Just like with maternity clothes, I tried to work with what was already in my closet. Button downs, tanks under everything (lift a tshirt, pull the top of the tank down, pop out the milk dud, it’s a nursing shirt!)
That’s basically it on nursing clothes 😉
Banana Oat Cake:
1 smashed banana
1/4 C brown sugar
1 C oats
I like to add a couple tablespoons of coco powder and a splash of vanilla, sometimes a couple tablespoons of peanut butter (if using peanut butter, add a few tablespoons of water)
Mix ingredients, banana and sugar first, then the rest. Turn into a sprayed or greased microwave safe bowl (about the size of a salad bowl), microwave for up to 4 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when there are little holes on top. Let cool and enjoy a tasty treat!
I know this was long, but I hope this can help someone like the posts I read on breastfeeding helped me before I had my son. Maybe something I wrote will come to mind and you can come back here and look up this old post and find an answer you’re looking for!!!