Earlier in the week I posted about mine and Jasper’s first week of breastfeeding. Although we got off to a rocky start, we ended his first week in a really good routine with me feeling very positive!
On Saturday however (day 10 of breastfeeding) we were at my parents house for my Dad’s birthday and I noticed my right boob was really hurting while Jasper was feeding.
The right boob had always been a little more tender than the left, with a shooting pain in the nipple every time he sucked, but when I changed positions and got him to re-latch it would always ease off so I was never really concerned.
This time though it was different, excruciating in fact. Rabbit had done a little photoshoot with my sisters friend Nikki, and not liking to be naked he’d pooped, peed and sicked on the both of us so we both jumped in the bath to wash off.
While I was in there I tried to feed him and literally sobbed the whole time. The pain was unbearable, I want to say close to labour pains and I’m not over exaggerating!
My mum took Jasper while I tried to soak my boob and hand express a bit of milk. I cried loads and got myself into a bit of a state, which worried my mum and Pete who thought I may have entered the baby blues phase – I didn’t feel depressed, I just felt in pain, a lot of pain!
I’d read about all of the different conditions your boobs could develop and put it down to engorgement or a blocked duct. Once I got out of the bath however, I felt achy, shivery and exhausted – signs of Mastitis.
I knew that the one thing everyone recommended with boob problems was to keep feeding off the boob no matter how painful so throughout the night I cried my way through feeds on the right boob and spent feeds on the left boob dreading the next time Jasper was hungry.
I think in part I was crying because I was scared that I may have to stop breastfeeding. I know that this wouldn’t be the end of the world but at the time I just felt guilty that I might not be able to provide him with my milk. I wanted to choose when to stop, not be forced to.
By the time I woke up on Sunday the right boob was red from the nipple to my armpit and my nipple was very swollen, so much so that Rabbit couldn’t latch on. I felt miserable and knew that if I didn’t get milk out it would become worse so Pete popped out and bought me an electric pump, nipple shield and hot and cold compress.
I expressed milk from the infected boob while Rabbit fed from the left boob, with the intention to just throw the expressed milk away. Rabbit was content with the milk from just my left one and expressing was helping to ease the swelling a bit so I didn’t see the point in storing the expressed milk.
By late afternoon I felt like crap so Pete called the out of hours midwifes who said to call 111, who then had a doctor call me back and sent me to the out of hours doctors. The doctor confirmed that it was mastitis and put me on a course of antibiotics to take alongside paracetamol and ibuprofen.
I felt better as soon as I took the tablets – mind over matter, but that night Rabbit became really restless. He would want feeding every half an hour or more frequently. It was almost as if the milk from my left boob wasn’t cutting it anymore. Pete had asked many times for me to feed him the expressed milk but I really didn’t want to incase he then wouldn’t go back to the boob. In the end I agreed though and as if by magic as soon as he’d had the expressed milk he was out like a light!
The next feed he latched onto my left boob so I got into a routine of expressing the right while he fed off the left then bottle feeding him the expressed milk. He was settling really well and didn’t mind swapping from boob to bottle; plus the engorgement was really easing off so it was working well.
By Monday morning the flu-like symptoms had gone, the redness had eased off and I focused on massaging out the lumps on the right boob. I noticed in the expressed milk a lot of stringy and lumpy milk which although was gross, meant that the ducts were unblocking.
I spent about an hour in the shower hand expressing from the infected boob with the shower head on my boob (to massage it). I hand expressed so much milk that instead of drips it actually started squirting out, it was unblocking amazingly! The nipple swelling went down but I still didn’t feel comfortable letting him feed on it, in fact I was quite scared to so I thought I’d wait and stick to expressing.
On Tuesday my boobs felt so much better, no swelling, no redness and far fewer lumps. I started using a wide tooth comb to massage from the armpit towards the nipple and used my microwavable wheat bag to encourage the let down of the milk. The only problem now was that my nipple had become blistered. I think this was due to the flange on the pump not fitting too well so I started hand expressing as well as using the pump to try and give my nipple a bit of a break!
Wednesday I don’t know why but when I woke up I decided to try and feed on the right boob. There was a slight pinch at the beginning but compared to the weekend it was so much better! I was also able to express 2 ounces per session which meant that Pete could feed Jasper and I didn’t need to be on standby after to see if he needed more. This was fab but my nipple then became cracked and bled on top of being blistered.
The last couple of days the nipple has looked a lot better, no swelling or bleeding. I think the mastitis has healed ( I’m still going to finish the antibiotics though) but both boobs are getting really engorged between feeds and expressing. I’ve just stuck to expressing on the right and feeding off the left but it’s not a permenant solution I know but it’s all I can handle at the moment.
It’s been a tough few days. Not long after I’ve fed and finished expressing, I’ve had to start all over again, making it pretty difficult to make any plans. I need to express regularly for the infected boob to keep unblocked so it’s not only been physically tiring but emotionally draining too. I really didn’t realise how much breastfeeding takes out of you!
I’m going to stick at it and take it as it comes but I can see it being a bit of a rocky road! I’d definitely like to feed for as long as possible but I’m more open now to bottle feeding especially if it means less stress for me and Rabbino!
The next week of the breastfeeding mile will include tongue tie and implants – what a week!
Thanks for reading!