According to KellyMom (my number one go-to breastfeeding source) via Maureen Minchin, author of ‘Milk Matters.’
“mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can be caused by obstruction, infection and/or allergy. The incidence of postpartum mastitis in Western women is 20%; mastitis is not nearly so common in countries where breastfeeding is the norm and frequent breastfeeding is typical. Mastitis is most common in the first 2-3 weeks, but can occur at any stage of lactation. Mastitis may come on abruptly, and usually affects only one breast.”
I had always assumed that serious cases of mastitis only happened to nursing moms of newborns. That is when the milk supply is heavier, the flow is quicker and women are most susceptible to it. So when I came down with my first case of mastitis when my son was 22 months old, I was pretty shocked. At first, I didn’t even know what it was because I didn’t think I could get mastitis this bad at this point. But I did, and I got hit pretty hard with all the classical symptoms. Also according to KellyMom:
“Local symptoms are the same as for a plugged duct, but the pain/heat/swelling [of the breast] is usually more intense. There may be red streaks extending outward from the affected area. Typical mastitis symptoms include a fever of 101.3°F (38.5°C) or greater, chills, flu-like aching, malaise and systemic illness.”
At its worst I was being encouraged to just take the anti-biotics, but that was going against everything I know to be true and believe. It really wasn’t about being righteous, as it was about proving to myself what I always say to others. If I was going to encourage others to radically trust their bodies, then I had to trust mine at a time where it felt like it was failing me. I know that might sound dramatic, but mastits is not fun, at all.
Please note that I will always discourage the use of antibiotics unless it is absolutely neccesary. There are some instances where anti-biotics can save your life, I am aware. In this blog I won’t be going into why I don’t use antibiotics for myself or my child, but rather how I cured mastitis on my own, without the help of AB so that others can do the same if that is their preferred method of healing.
Also, I am not a doctor (kind of the point), so I am not qualified to diagnose or treat anything. This is simply a recount of my own personal experience with healing my body of mastitis.
When I had mastitis I barely ate, and when I did it was light, water-dense, raw, fresh food. I only ate fresh juice, watermelon, some smoothies, and of course A LOT of water. My personal suggestion is to do that same, or similar and definitely eliminate things like dairy, gluten, meat, eggs, coffee, processed sugar, alcohol, and heavy grains for the time being.
2) Lots of rest.
I know this can be hard with children, but I don’t suggest you letting your health take a back seat. Have your partner, a friend, or a family member come and care for your child while you care for yourself. Allowing the body to rest and sleep during illness is imperative for the immune system to fight off such infections.
3) Happy Ducts Tincture by Wish Garden
This tincture crafted by Wish Garden is packed full of herbs that support the lymphatic system. When I started taking high doses of this, I immediately started feeling better. I always strongly recommend this product to women struggling with mastitis.
Garlic contains antibacterial and antiviral properties that were anciently used to treat infections, and has even been referred to as a “natural antibiotic.” Ideally, you want to eat a boat load of raw garlic when you have an infection like mastitis, BUT if you’re like me and cannot consistently stomach that much raw garlic, there is always the option of garlic in capsule form.
5) Frequent Nursing on the side of infected breast.
Many people resist to nurse on the infected side because it really does hurt like hell…but you need to do it. I know, I know. It is terrible. Having your little nurse on this side frequently will activate movement, opening, and flow for the clogged duct.
6) Goldenseal & Echinacea
The most important thing during this time is focusing on ramping up your immune system. A strong, healthy immune system is what is going to fight off infection. Goldenseal and Echinacea are two herbs that are notoriously known just for that, and together they are known as the ‘dynamic duo.’
“How do echincea and golden seal work together as the dynamic duo? During a cold, flu or infection, especially of the mucous membranes, echinacea can go to work to activate immune fighters, such as macrophages. These important defenders work to engulf and rid the body of virus-infected cells, bacteria, toxic wastes—helping to clear the debris of an “immune battle” from the site. The purple cone-flower can also help strengthen a protective gel that surrounds many of the body’s cells, thus keeping invading organisms from gaining a foothold. Golden seal, meanwhile, can help control the inflammatory process if it gets too carried away—if there is too much heat, redness, or swelling. The immune system can actually be inhibited in its protective job when this happens. It can also help bring more blood into the micro-circulation in the areas that are infected, such as the sinus cavities or urinary tract. It can help the body go through the infection much faster by bringing in more of the macrophages (that echinacea is activating) and helping to remove debris from the site.”
-Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D
I used the tincture, but it is also available in tea form, as well as capsules.
7) Castor Oil hot compress and massage.
I would do these at night before I nursed my son to sleep. It is pretty simple. I heated up a pot of water and soaked a reusable rag in the water and then rung it out and covered the hot, wet rag in castor oil. I would hold the rag over my breast and gently massage downward toward the nipple. The heat really helped to facilitate unclogging of the ducts. A couple things castor oil is used for is increasing circulation and supporting the lymphatic system.
After about 3 days, I felt significantly better. Remember that this is just my personal experience that I am offering for those who might appreciate an alternative to antibiotics. It is not a one-size fits all prescription. If you have also taken the natural route in curing mastitis, how did you do it? Did you do anything different than what I did? I would love to hear your ideas!
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