Many many months ago (17 exactly today in fact) I started my breastfeeding journey – the day my son was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It was a bit of a rocky start, I had cracked, bleeding, toe curlingly painful nipples for about 3 weeks and then it was mainly just sore for another 3, by 6 weeks we were doing pretty well. We have pretty much sailed through since then – the odd bite or teeth mark here and there is as hard as it has gotten. Until Saturday night that is, when I thought I was coming down with the flu. Oliver had been unwell because his canines and molars are coming through and just didn’t want to feed that day so naturally I was feeling pretty full. I had leaked within half an hour of getting in to bed, I changed my top and thought nothing of it and went back to sleep. I woke again an hour or two later soaking because I’d leaked again – this time I noticed that I was feeling pretty sore too. I changed my top again and tried to get back to sleep. Eventually Oliver woke at around 4am – I wouldn’t usually feed him at night but I knew I needed to, so I fed from the full breast and we both went back to sleep until he woke for the day at 7am – I decided to feed from the same side because it still felt sore. It was then that I realised just how awful I was feeling.
When I woke up on the Sunday I felt exhausted, my throat was really sore, my whole body ached and I felt extremely cold despite having a 38 degree fever. I thought I must have the flu and then realised that mastitis is described to have flu like symptoms. I looked it up via the NHS website and was fairly certain that I knew what was wrong. I told my partner and he left me to rest, meanwhile he looked up what he could do to help – he brought me painkillers, tea and glasses of water while he looked after Oliver all day, bringing him in every few hours to feed from me to help clear the breast. He offered to make me lunch but I just couldn’t stomach anything I just felt so sick.
I spent the whole day sleeping, then at around 4pm I decided to get out of bed and try to eat something in the hope that I would feel a little better, but by 7pm at dinner time I felt even worse. We decided to go to the Urgent Care Centre to see the Out of Hours GP – 3.5hours later we saw the GP who said it was definitely mastitis and then gave me some antibiotics. I took the first one as soon as we got to the car – I just wanted to be better as soon as possible. The next day I was feeling a little better, but still very unwell. I spent much of the day in bed again. I feel very lucky that my partner was at home rather than at work, however, he was then leaving at 6am on Tuesday until Wednesday evening.
On Monday I had also decided to have a hot bath – my aches felt so much better, I was finally warm and I managed to express a little. I now feel a little sorry for Oliver though as I saw what came out – it was sticky and yellow, a little like pus or mucus. I squeezed out as much as I possibly could.
Luckily on Tuesday I felt a little better – I was taking the antibiotics and painkillers – I even managed to tidy the living room and vacuum up some of Oliver’s mess! I still didn’t have a huge appetite, but I managed to eat a little. By Wednesday it was all down hill again, luckily my partner was home earlier than expected which meant I could rest again – and I really needed it.
Now, on Thursday, the soreness and redness has gone and there is only regular milk coming out. I still feel slightly fluey, my temperature is around 37 despite being chilly, I’m a little achy and my throat feels very sore and swollen as well as having little appetite, but I am definitely getting better and the course of antibiotics will be finished by this time on Sunday.
I had gotten to a point where I was complacent about breastfeeding, it was just so easy. He hasn’t fed in the night for a really long time and is quite happy to drink cows milk from a non spill cup if I need a rest. The feeds were cutting down and I was confident about my milk supply being perfect for him. Now we are here, and it is feeling pretty difficult. I feel like my supply has dwindled, but at the same time he is feeding so much more, even waking up at 4am and expecting feeds because I have been encouraging it to remove the blockage. Now I am worried that when I go away in a few weeks that not only is Oliver going to really miss the feeds (away for 36 hours and he’s been fine before), but also that I risk mastitis again.
So now I face a choice, do I risk upsetting him and forcing him to cut down feeds or do I follow his lead the same way I have for the past 17 months?