You might wake up with a sore breast. ‘Hmmmm, probably a blocked duct’ you’re likely to think. ‘Must express on that side today.’
You feed the baby on that side (or toddler) and carry on about your day.
A little while later (in my case it was about 60 minutes – not very long) you start to feel very tired. Your breast hurts and your back/shoulders ache a little and you’d really like a nap. Not too long after that, you find yourself curled up on the couch feeling progressively worse. Your head hurts, your skin hurts, everything is happening so fast and MAN do you feel sick.
Maybe by now your breast has been cleared of blockages and isn’t hurting so much.You still feel shocking though.
You probably have mastitis.
‘The books’ all say that mastitis is an infection in your breast (correct) and that you will generally feel a lumpy painful patch (not always correct. I had pain without the lumps) with a red area.
Just to clarify, a red area in your breast doesn’t look as if you have been slapped or spent too long with your breasts in front of the heater, which is what I was expecting the first time I got mastitis. A red area actually looks like a patch of skin where you can see that the tiny little blood vessels are more pronounced. It’s not terribly noticeable unless you’re looking for it.
Get yourself to a Doctor, Urgent Care, the Emergency Room, whatever. Get yourself there as fast as you can. By the time you realise you have mastitis, you probably shouldn’t be driving. All you want to do is sleep and shake and probably cry. If you can, get someone else to drive you.
You need antibiotics as soon as possible.
Mastitis makes you really sick, really fast. Like, REALLY fast.
In general, I find the books telling you that it feels like ‘flu like symptoms’ to be a little misleading. Yes there are the muscle aches and the exhaustion and the temperature. But for me, all my flu’s have started with the mother of all head colds and then moved into my chest. Mastitis is like flu, but without the flu.
Today I woke up with a sore breast. I fed Isaac on it twice (crying the whole time, my infection was right behind my nipple and it was excruciating). When I started feeling too sick to sit up I thought I was just tired. Then it clicked in my head that I needed antibiotics. This is my 3rd (or 4th?) bout of mastitis ever, so I had antibiotics knocking around in the fridge ‘just in case’.
[I might be silly sometimes, but no one tell me I don't know how to self medicate. I have EVERYTHING hanging around in the fridge, just in case.]
I took an antibiotic and 2 Panadeine and headed to the shower to express. I needed a shower anyway, seeing as how Isaac vomited on my face this morning. If you’ve got a breast pump (I don’t) a heat pack [or hot face washers] and pumping will work too. You need to keep that breast as empty as possible.
DO NOT STOP FEEDING THE BABY
Regardless of how bad it hurts, keep feeding the baby. Mastitis turns really nasty if you don’t keep the breast empty.
I am spending today curled up on the couch with a blanket. Isaac has been good and Amy is busily running in and out of the house with Nathan.
Incidentally, if you have EDS, because of poor body temperature control, a temperature will generally be seen by the doctor that is within normal range. My temperature during the last bout of mastitis was 37.3C and the doctor said ‘normal’. However, because my body temps are generally only 36.5C (ish) it was raised for me. After I had Isaac, the midwives kept checking that I was indeed, feeling okay because my blood pressure was only slightly above dead AND my temps were low. The joys, right?
So here ends my public service announcement of the day. I’m off to eat painkillers and curl up sick now. Thank god dinner is in the slow cooker already.