Mastitis Sucks.

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Having breastfed my two older boys with absolutely no issues whatsoever, I was definitely not prepared for Friday night.

Friday evening was tough for Wesley, my one month old, as he seemed to want to cluster feed. He would nurse for short period of time, get a bit fussy and want off the breast or simply fell asleep after a short time. For a few hours he was attached to me in this state. He got exhausted and finally after feeding for a longer period of time, took almost a three hour snooze. I fed him around 11 pm and went to bed as usual. My husband went to sleep in the guest bedroom so that he would be well rested and could give me a break in the morning.

I woke up to Wesley’s cries at about 3 am and realized I was shivering. I sat up and felt excruciating pain in my left breast (the side I was sleeping on).

So painful that it literally took my breath away.

I immediately thought back to a conversation years ago from my lactaction consultant about mastitis and figured that was probably what I was experiencing. I also recalled that I should continue to breastfeed and since Wesley was still crying I figured that is what I should do first.

It wasn’t easy.

Just trying to lift him was a struggle, especially since I was shaking so badly from my chills. When I propped him up on my nursing pillow and very gently tried to lift my breast to him I completely lost it. I started to sob.

And I mean sob.

He latched just fine and started to eat but I was a shaking, shivering mess.

For almost 20 minutes I sat like this while researching mastitis on my iPod…



Until my husband heard me and came in to find me crying uncontrollably as I held our one month old baby. What was he to think? His heart sunk in his chest until he saw Wesley move.

I couldn’t even talk.

I handed him Wes and in between sobs explained what was happening. I made my way downstairs to get Tylenol and ibuprofen. I also drank some water and grabbed our heating pad while Joe changed Wesley and came to join me in bed.  Within a half hour I felt so much better and the chills had gone away. I thankfully wasn’t running a fever.

When I awoke my breast felt a lot better and while it was still a bit tender, I nursed on that side as much as possible all day. Although did get a bit achey, I never did develop a fever, which is why I didn’t go into the doctor. I doubted without a fever that I had an infection and thought I’d wait and see if I got any worse.

I’m happy to say that I have almost no symptoms now except for a very slight tenderness. Because Wesley has such a great latch, I’m assuming this occurred due to a missed feeding, compression on the breast from laying on that side and not having emptied the breast from the last feeding. You can bet I’ll be more diligent to not let this happen again.

For all you breastfeeding women out there who have experienced this before, I HAD NO IDEA.

No idea at all that anything with breastfeeding could be so painful.

I understand how some have been driven to leave breastfeeding early because of the pain. However, if it does happen to you, know that you can breastfeed through it and that can help to not only provide relief, but fix the problem altogether.

I am going to keep an eye on it and if anything worsens, you can bet I’ll be calling my healthcare provider.

Has anyone else gone through this? Was it this painful for you?


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  1. Jessica Morgan says

    Im feel so bad for. The same thing happened to me while I was pumping for my fourth baby who was in the NICU. It is extremely painful. Im glad your feeling better.

  2. says

    YES! I did. It was horrid. I did spike a fever and needed meds which the doctor was prompt to prescribe over the phone after explaining symptoms. Sounds like you did it all right in response even though it was a painful solution. The one thing that seems most natural – stop nursing on that side – is the one thing NOT to do. You must keep nursing through the pain. Women are amazing in what they’ll do to sustain what’s best for baby. There are so many pros to nursing – but this is one of the big cons. I also got a “bleb” while nursing and had never heard of it. Look that one up for a fun time if you’ve never experienced it. OUCH! Thank goodness for lactation nurses! I imagine this might be the response if men had to endure labor. “I HAD NO IDEA!”. Hang in there mama. Hope your day gets better after a long night.

  3. Andrea says

    I had the beginnings of this at 3 weeks postpartum as my son did not nurse due to poor latch, but I still pump. The doc said warm pack and massage to ensure fully emptying the breast. It was a terrible ache. I am so glad it has appeared to have resloved for you, and you know how to deal with it! That is why I am afraid to stop pumping, the pain I get from feeling “full”. So I am going to continue pumping as long as I can. My son is 5 1/2 months now. I figure I can handle it another 7 months. Plus, out of the blue he has been latching occasionally! My heart is happy w/ that!

    • says

      I know what you mean, once you have that pain you dont want it again. After my daughter was 1 and we were ready to stop, I did it very gradually so my body would get used to making less and less milk until we were down to just one feeding before bed and just a short time. That is what worked for me, I really didnt get engorged when I finally quit doing it that way.

  4. says

    You poor thing! I was lucky to have absolutely no issues breast feeding. My daughter was a good latch and I started pumping extra after a feeding if I didn’t feel “empty” enough – that also helped me stock pile a stash of frozen milk! Hope you are feeling better!!

  5. says

    I had the same problem with my 3rd. I know what you mean it hurts! I had the fever and all. I was told to keep nursing through it. I also had to change her positions so the milk wasnt always coming from the same ducts. I used warm compresses too.

  6. Carla Garcia says

    I had mastitis twice with my now 12 month old (still nursing!) For days I was in so much pain. I did see the doctor and get medicine. It took almost a week each time to clear up. Nursing was the worst pain ever. I cried just knowing it was feeding time. Just moving slightly hurt. heck, sitting still hurt! I didn’t have this with previous babies so I wasn’t expecting it, either.

  7. Emilie says

    Yes, I’m feeling much better, thank you! I actually feel worse about the fact that I scared my husband so bad when he saw me. He thought for a few moments that our son had died. :(

  8. says

    I had this (with the accompanying fever) when I tried to wean my first child. It was so incredibly painful and I was told that to cure the issue, I needed to breastfeed to release the pressure. What a catch 22….to breastfeed was excruciatingly painful with the mastitis but to relieve the pain, you have to breastfeed. I learned a very valuable lesson that day and was determined not to repeat it with my second child.

    It certainly wasn’t enough to keep me from the joy of breastfeeding my children though! I’m glad you’re doing better!!

  9. says

    I know your pain. I had mastitis twice with my second child. It’s soooo painful. Nursing through it and moist heat really helped. I dampened a washcloth and put it in the microwave for a few seconds. Glad you are feeling better.

  10. says

    You poor thing, that sounds horrible. I don’t remember ever getting it with Kaydee but I remember many, many painful days during the first six weeks.

  11. says

    Wow. That sounds horrible and I believe I went through this with my son. Though I took nothing for it and after a week of it not going away I gave up. He was a great breastfeeder too. I never went to a lactation consultant, which I wish I would have done now. However, the ones that help you to breastfeed in the hospital were always so nasty and uncaring. I’m glad you fought through it. You are strong!

  12. says

    Do you know I have no clue what any problems would be? I found out the hard way my nipples were infected only because he had a yeast infection. I thought the SEVERE pain when he latched on was just our problem.

    Now I’m worried b/c Sawyer almost never drains my breast and I definitely don’t always stay on top of which side was done last. In fact I know my left side is nursed way more then my right. I do try to pump at least once a day so at least I know they are drained then.

  13. Janet W. says

    That sounds horrible! I’ve never had that problem, but then again I didn’t feed my daughters for too long until I switched to formula. Hope it doesn’t happen again.

  14. Eileen says

    I never had a lactation consultant, my kids are ages 12 to 31, and nursed all 6. I know this may sound silly but growing up on a farm, I learned about mastitis very young. Our dairy cows would get this and it could be a nasty infection. Releasing the pressure and infection by ‘drainging’ (pumping or nursing) was the way to get rid of, and sometimes in severe cases with medication. I guess all mammals can suffer this. I only remember it happening with one child when I had to be hospitalized for a while and pumping milk did not allow for full emptying (the breast pumps over 25 years ago were nothing as great as they are now). It was so painful I remember it being hard to find a comfortable position and then nursing could be a mix between good and bad. The relief from the pressure of fullness was so great but the initial latch was SO painful. I do see moms giving up when you suffer this or cracking or sore nipples, and think it’s SO important for moms to have a mentor to call at all times. Lactation consultants are great but there is nothing like that sister or “sister friend” who can talk you through this and help you stay with breastfeeding if you really want to. It is not always easy. Most moms think it’s going to be a piece of cake because it’s “natural”. It’s kind of like childbirth, it’s an amazingly hard task but more rewarding than you can ever put words to. At least that is my experience.
    So glad you worked through it! Sorry you scared your hubby…he has to know by child 3 how easy the tears come though sometimes. Poor guy but I am sure he appreciates your sacrifice of time and body and spirit even more now. So many parts of motherhood are unsettling, even with the pure joy we find most of the time!

  15. AlexisGrau says

    That’s so crazy! I’m so lucky I didn’t experience any serious issues (knock on wood) so far. I’m 7 months in and have experienced some serious pain, especially early on, but now the worst of it comes from my son gnawing on me lol. And I’m actually hoping his teeth won’t come in for a while because I don’t want to get bit!

    I think women (and especially men) really don’t understand how difficult and painful breast feeding can be until they experience it firsthand. But I’m sure we all agree… it’s totally worth it!

  16. says

    I’m so sorry!! I never had mastitis, but I did have clogged milk ducts which you treat pretty much the same way. It was painful… but nothing like what you experienced I’m sure! Mine felt sort of like shards of glass when he would nurse.. OUCH!!

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