I need advice. I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant with number two! I tried breastfeeding and got very, very bad mastitis. Jack is now 27 months and my nipples are still so sensitive and I hate it. I don’t want to breastfeed the second at all. Not even the first few days…. but I know I really should…. can anyone out there offer advice?
Mastitis can definitely be a very painful condition and I sympathise with you tremendously! I am not at all surprised that you are already experiencing anxiety about breastfeeding your second child when you are not even halfway through your pregnancy!
For those not familiar with mastitis, it is a bacterial infection of the breast. The infection causes the breast to become hard, swollen, red and very painful to the touch. Women will also commonly experience flu-like symptoms. In most cases, women will be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection and once on them, should start to feel some relief from symptoms within about 24 hours.
Despite the discomfort, there is no doubt that continuing breastfeeding is better for the mother (and baby) when a mother has mastitis. First, the mother will be far more comfortable if her breast is drained. Adding engorgement to mastitis makes the breast more painful still. Expressing milk or pumping by hand does not make any sense when the baby will do the job much more effectively.
Second, the infection is likely to clear up more quickly if the mother continues breastfeeding. There is absolutely no evidence that the baby is at risk by continuing breastfeeding.
Heat applied to mastitis helps too, because heat helps fight off infection. You can use a warm compress or a heat bag that you can warm in the microwave. Just take care not to apply directly to the breast if it is too warm. You can put it over clothes or on top of a flannel.
Sadly, it sounds like you really didn’t get the best help or support when you experienced this the first time with your son and I would strongly encourage you to seek advice from a lactation consultant (preferably someone with the IBCLC qualification – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as they are the most highly trained breastfeeding experts. I would recommend that you make an appointment even during your pregnancy so that a) you can really get your bad experience off your chest (pardon the bad pun!) and b) work with the consultant to prepare you emotionally for breastfeeding your next baby.
Getting the right breastfeeding support at the right time is so crucial for mothers – all mothers.
I get the sense from you that you really want to be able to breastfeed your baby as you know it is the best possible nutrition for him or her. I am confident that with the right help, you will be able to overcome your anxiety and fears and achieve a wonderful, and most importantly, pain free, breastfeeding experience with your new baby.
Here are some good resources for you to take advantage of:
Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/
How to find an IBCLC lactation consultant in Australia http://www.lcanz.org/find-a-consultant-qld.htm or http://www.ilca.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3337
Terrific online resource: http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/
A couple of excellent books to read:
Tanya Strusberg is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.
She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.
To learn more visit www.birthwellbirthright.com
Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is of a general nature only and does not constitute formal medical advice. Any specific medical problem should be referred directly to a qualified health professional.