Showing posts with label infections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label infections. Show all posts

Friday, March 1, 2013


I was recently looking through my posts and was surprised to see I didn't have a post dedicated to mastitis. So here it is.

I, unfortunately, have plenty of experience with mastitis. Mastitis is an infection in your breast. The first time I had mastitis, Brayden was about 3-4 weeks old. I didn't feel well, but I was coming on several weeks of not sleeping much. My breasts hurt, but breastfeeding had been pretty painful thus far. One day I looked in the mirror to see that my breast was very red. At that point, I had some distant memory come up about what I had read about mastitis. 

I also got it when Kaitlyn was two weeks old, and sometime when McKenna was a young baby. At this point, Brinley is almost 7 months old and I have not gotten it--knock on wood! Here is some basic information on mastitis. I am obviously not a doctor--this is just my understanding and experience. If you think you have mastitis, definitely consult your doctor. Mastitis left untreated can lead to serious problems.

Mastitis is an infection in the breast. Mastitis can happen at any time (even if you are not breastfeeding, though it is most common when breastfeeding). It most frequently happens early in breastfeeding. You will typically get it in just one breast--so one will be much more painful than the other.

Symptoms include:
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in breast
  • Redness and swelling of breast--it will likely feel hot
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever--101 or higher
Call your doctor as soon as you know you have mastitis. My first OBGYN was very adament about seeing you immediately if you had mastitis. Mastitis left untreated will most likely lead to a serious problem that requires surgery to relieve the abscess that forms. My OBs sister had this happen. She got so sick it was scary, so he really wanted to prevent it from happening to someone else.

Your OBGYN will likely want to see you physically unless this is not your first time getting mastitis. If mastitis is confirmed, you will be put on oral antibiotics  You can also take a pain reliever to help with the fever and pain. You should feel better really soon--a day or two. I highly recommend you also take some sort of probiotic to help avoid developing thrush (AKA yeast) in your breast.

If you think you have or may be headed toward mastitis, you can work to unclog the duct (see below). If it is mastitis that is simply started by a clogged duct and doesn't have any bacteria (yet), then you might be able to clear it out through clearing the ducts. You can also try natural remedies (just google mastitis natural remedies and you will find plenty) If you have had symptoms for more than a day, though, or if your fever is above 101, I strongly suggest you go to the doctor.

You can absolutely continue breastfeeding your baby when you have mastitis. It is wise to start each feeding on the infected breast until the clog is gone.

Mastitis is caused by a clogged duct and/or bacteria. If you get a clogged duct and don't resolve it, it will likely lead to mastitis. I always get clogged ducts early in the breastfeeding process. Work really hard to get those ducts unclogged. It can really hurt, but it is much better than letting it lead to mastitis (and for me, the almost inevitable yeast infection that follows the antibiotics).

Mastitis can also be caused by bacteria--often from your baby's mouth entering through a crack in your nipple. 

You can see why mastitis is often an early breastfeeding issue--this is when you have an overabundance of milk and your nipples are building callouses. 

"They" say that you are either the type to get mastitis or to not get it. I had accepted this, but with Brinley, I had a change of fate. When I was in the hospital the day after she was born, a different OB came to see me in the morning (mine was off work). She mentioned something about mastitis and I causally commented that I always get mastitis. She suggested that I take Newman's Nipple Cream. This was the first time I entertained the idea that I could possibly avoid mastitis. Here are some ways to prevent:
  • Wear a loose enough bra so your milk ducts are not compressed--this can lead to clogged ducts. Do this especially in your first few weeks of breastfeeding while your body figures out how much milk to make.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Prep your nipples before childbirth. I had great success with regularly applying lanolin during my third trimester. I didn't crack when I started breastfeeding because I wasn't so incredibly dry.
  • Heal your nipples. This is one great thing about Newman's Nipple Cream (this requires a prescription). It has a steroid in it, so it helps your cracked nipples heal faster. You can also use a nipple shield if you would like to while you have cracked nipples. This will help protect against bacteria. Newman's Nipple Cream also has antibacterial agent in it, so it will help fight against bacteria getting in.
  • Keep ducts clear. There are many ways to go about this. If you get a clogged duct, start each feeding on that side.

    You can also vary nursing positions to help drain different portions of the breast.

    You can also do some pumping between feedings to relieve pressure. I didn't do this with my first three children because I wanted my body to get used to how much milk really was needed. However, I found with Brinley I could pump a little bit and take the edge off and then just slowly cut down on how much I pumped. Pumping can be annoying, but I assure you that it is far less annoying than mastitis.

    As your baby eats, gently massage the clogged duct. I apply pressure and press toward the nipple. This hurts like crazy, but if you work the clog out, it will feel better in a couple of hours. It will, however, still be tender.

    You can also apply warm compresses or run warm water over the affected breast. Again, rub the clog out and toward the nipple. I found this the most helpful in relieving clogs. I just continued massaging until the clog was gone.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thrush/Yeast Infection

I must apologize. I must apologize for having not written this post before now. I thought I had written something because recently someone was asking about thrush and I went to my blog to "find the link" and instead found nothing.

I had thrush/yeast issues with both of my girls. Twice with McKenna.

Thrush/Yeast infections are very difficult to get rid of, and I know from experience they are very painful for the nursing mother. 

It all started with Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn was born a perfect nurser. She had perfect form and was very efficient. There was never any pain involved with nursing her. When she was about a month old, it started to get a bit painful. At first,  I thought it was normal. It was very painful for me when Brayden was first nursing, so I figured it was just the normal "callousing" coming a bit late.

But it just continued to get worse.

And worse.

I started to bleed from my nipples. Oh it was painful. I even called my lactation consultant friend and she attributed it to poor latch.

By the time Kaitlyn was 6 or 7 weeks old, my logical brain kicked in. It didn't make sense we would spend a month nursing pain-free, then suddenly get so bad. My LC friend thought it could be she was sucking harder now, but it just didn't make sense to me. 

Plus, it was only getting worse.

Finally, one day, I "Googled" 'bleeding nipples' and up came information on Thrush! Yes! That was the problem! I read about it on several sites and realized that is what I had.

I contacted my doctor and also contacted Kaitlyn's doctor. She had some thrush spots in her mouth behind her lips, not on her cheeks  or tongue where I was checking. 

I wish I could say that after a week of anti-fungal medication, we were both perfect. No. It wasn't until she was 7 months old that we were finally yeast free. But we did get things so I was not in sharp, shooting pain at even the though of nursing.

So what is thrush? And what do you do about it?

Thrush is yeast. In a baby, you will likely see white patches in the mouth somewhere. The biggest sign for me was that she she had what appeared to be a diaper rash, but it would not go away. It had red, raised bumps all over her diaper area.

Symptoms in mom. For me, it starts with bright red nipples. They are also very sensitive all of a sudden.

It then moves on to burning. It can burn in the nipple area and when it spreads enough, it burns in the milk duct area, so you feel it everywhere your ducts are. At this point, you will have shooting pains when you nurse your baby.

You will start to crack in your nipples. And not just a "I am a first time mom nursing a baby" crack, but a full on split down your nipple. And in my case, blood gushing forth (sorry, but true).

You might also find you have a red rash on your breast like your baby might have on the bottom.

Your breast and/or nipples might be itchy.

You will need to of course see your doctor AND your baby's doctor, even if one of you do not have symptoms. Your doctor(s) will decide what is the best course of treatment, but I do think it is wise to be aware of some things when you go.

First, you both MUST be treated at the same time. Some doctors will try to treat just one you, but you both must be treated. Be firm about this. When Kaitlyn was a baby, her doctor told me we both had to be treated at the same time. When McKenna was a baby and I had yeast, she had no visible symptoms. I called the office and a nurse on the phone told me she couldn't be treated if she had no symptoms. I was finally able to get an appointment and the doctor prescribed treatment for her.

There are several treatment options out there. 

Nystatin is a common first choice in treating mom and baby. For baby, it will be drops and for mom, it will be a cream in most cases. Some sources believe Nystatin to be rather ineffective against yeast. We personally haven't had luck with Nystatin alone.

Yeast problems develop when the immune system is low. So if you or baby (or both in my case) were on antibiotics, then that is likely when the yeast problem developed. Probiotics, like acidopholus, might work to help you fight the yeast, though some have found it to hurt the situation more than help.

Some readers commented that diet change helped them. Maybe adding more yogurt (with active cultures). Some cut dairy. Yeast likes sugars, so going low-carb and high-protein with vegetables can help.

There are some nipple care actions to take. One is to let the nipples dry off completely before dressing, even after nursing. You also want to clean your breasts with water or a water/vinegar mixture after each feeding. You can also do nipple soaks, either in saline solution or in vinegar/water mixture (1/1). Also, keep your nursing pads dry and fresh. Be careful with the nicer disposable pads. They can hold so much liquid you might be changing them too infrequently (I know from experience).

Gentian Violet is a very popular remedy, but one I have never used.

The only thing that has worked for me to finally rid myself of the yeast is Diflucan. And not the "wimpy" route of diflucan, but the 'take-several-pills-day-one-then-one-to-two-pills-daily-for-ten-days' route. With McKenna, I had to get a new  OB (old one moved). She is one who doesn't believe much in treating thrush. She thinks it will go away on its own eventually. Well, maybe so, but try telling my bleeding nipples to wait two months and it will go away. So I had to push for the Diflucan treatment, but I got it. 

Also, be sure to ask for Newman's Nipple Cream prescription if you have cracked nipples. It has to be compounded. I didn't get that until my second round with McKenna, and let me tell you, it is fabulous. So fabulous. I can't believe I went through two rounds of infection before this heaven-sent drug was given me. 

For more information on these and other treatments, see Could We Have Thrush? There are also other ideas, including dietary changes, at Yeast Overgrowth Suggestions.

This sound pretty awful, right? It is! So here is how you avoid it getting bad:
  1. Be aware of the signs. A big part of my problem with Kaitlyn is I didn't realize what was going on and it got really bad before we started treatment. 
  2. This often happens after a round of anti-biotics. If you or baby are or have been on them, keep a lookout for symptoms.
  3. Let nipples air dry after showering and/or nursing.
  4. Clean with water daily (to avoid, not treat).
  5. Keep nursing pads dry and fresh. As I said above, watch those nice and absorbent pads. They hold more than you realize.
Reader Ideas
Here are some ideas from readers they say worked with yeast (other than what has been listed):
  • Go tanning (the light kills the yeast)
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Wash clothes (nursing nightgown, bra, etc) often with vinegar added to the cycle
Please share any treatments or tips to avoid you have found helpful!



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