Body aches, headache, fatigue, redness, swelling, and painful breasts.
The dreaded symptoms of mastitis that no breastfeeding mom has time for. It might sound like I am being overly dramatic, but seriously people, mastitis is no joke. It makes you feel like you have a terrible case of the flu with the added bonus of extreme breast pain. And let me just tell you from personal experience, it is next to impossible to care for a baby and older kids when you are down and out with a severe case.
My history with mastitis started about 5 years ago when my oldest son was born. He struggled to latch on from the start which led to cracked, bleeding, and sore nipples. After about 2 weeks of difficulty, I began to have redness and pain in my breasts also. Being a new mom I didn’t recognize these as early symptoms of mastitis. To make a very long story short, I wound up being admitted to the hospital for three nights and had to have outpatient IV antibiotics for two weeks because the infection became so severe. All those antibiotics wreaked havoc on my body and I pretty much gave up on nursing him at that point. Doesn’t that just make breastfeeding sound super appealing?
By the time my daughter was born I was determined to breastfeed successfully. Her latch was much better than my son’s had ever been but nevertheless I began to notice the tell tale signs of mastitis when she was about a month old. I really didn’t want to take antibiotics again but I knew I had to treat the infection quickly.
So after a lot of research I decided to give an herbal remedy a try (although I was less than optimistic at this point). I made a compress of Lobelia and Mullein which I applied for twenty minutes every 4-6 hours. I also took Echinacea capsules every 6 hours. Much to my amazement, the vast majority of my mastitis symptoms were completely resolved in 24 hours after starting the treatment! I found that some mild breast soreness continued for another day or so but other than that I was symptom free!
Those of you who have dealt with mastitis in the past know that even antibiotics don’t work that quickly. I successfully treated mastitis 5 times while nursing my daughter. I am currently breastfeeding my 8 month old. Fortunately, I have only had mastitis once with him but again, I was able to get rid of it in 24 hours with this method.
I made my own combination using dried herbs the first time but since then I have used Mastitis Relieffrom Grandma’s Lavender. It is a combination of Lobelia, Mullein, and Lavender and it comes in a teabag-like packet which you steep in boiling water. Lobelia is wonderful herb for reducing inflammation and pain. Lavender is also effective for pain relief and has antibacterial properties. Mullein is great for healing infections and is also an anti-inflammatory. You can certainly just purchase the herbs and make your own combination but I found that it is super convenient to have a few of the packets on hand for emergencies. Follow the super easy steps below to prepare the herbal compress.
Mastitis Relief Compress
- 1 Mastitis Relief Packet
- 1 quart water
- 1 cloth diaper to use for the compress
Bring a quart of water to a boil, remove pot from burner.
Place packet in the water, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes
Soak the cloth diaper in the steeped tea and apply to the affected breast. I have found that a traditional cloth diaper makes the best compress but you could use any type of washcloth or rag.
Re-soak the compress when it is no longer warm and continue for twenty minutes
Do this at least 4-6 times in a 24 hour period. I always do the compress twice the following day to ensure the infection is completely gone.
Here are some other remedies that I use in addition to the Mastitis Relief compress.
- Echinacea and Goldenseal Capsules: Take 2 capsules every 6 hours. You can find these at your local health food store or on Amazon. I use Christopher’s Original Formulas Echinacea and Goldenseal .
- Garlic: Take a clove of chopped up raw garlic twice a day when you start noticing symptoms. Garlic has amazing antibacterial properties.
- Probiotics: They help build good bacteria in the gut which improves the immune systems ability to fight off infection. This is the brand I recommend.
- Cabbage leaves: I know this sounds strange, but cabbage leaves placed directly on the breast really help with the pain.
- Avoid wearing underwire bras or tight-fitting shirts. A nursing tank top is a great option for when you are dealing with mastitis.