I’ve been breastfeeding my youngest for 1.5 years so I was shocked to realize I had mastitis recently. I battled with mastitis with my eldest years ago in the early months of breastfeeding when mastitis is most common. But I forgot that mastitis can occur at any time during breastfeeding. Causes may include a blocked milk duct or bacteria. Out of nowhere, I had the tell-tell signs: tender sore area of my right breast, painful nursing, chills, fever and a feeling of general malaise. It felt like some type of flu bug hit me.
I tried to get some extra sleep but that didn’t help. It wasn’t until I had the sudden realization that breast pain for 2 days + fever and chills = mastitis. Once I realized what was going on I lept into action. Here’s what I did to treat mastitis naturally and fast!
I happened to have Manuka honey on hand because I was experimenting with it to treat seasonal allergies. While it didn’t seem to have any impact on my daughter’s pollen allergy symptoms, it was amazing for mastitis. I took about a ½ of teaspoon, 1-2x daily for about 3-4 days. I was sure to take it longer than I felt symptoms to make sure the infection was gone. I felt relief using Manuka and my other treatments within 24 hours.
Manuka honey is more potent than local raw honey. Made in New Zealand, it has strong antibacterial properties. It treats a number of ailments ranging from allergies, sore throats and infections to acid reflux. Considering that it’s antibacterial and that if I didn’t treat my mastitis ASAP I would be on an antibiotic anyway, I’m glad I had some on hand to try. And it worked!
Of course I had to incorporate my favorite antioxidant, Vitamin C, into my treatment. I took a 500 mg tablet broken in two 250mg doses (am/pm). I would have taken more but I’m breastfeeding and too much vitamin c gives my little one a mean diaper rash from all the ascorbic acid. But 500 mg was still effective for me.
If you have an infection brewing, you definitely want the power of vitamin c in your system helping to overpower the infection or virus your body is fighting. The stronger the infection the more vitamin c you need. No need for a high dose, frequency is the key with vitamin c as it is water soluble and doesn’t remain in your system long.
Black Elderberry Syrup
Black Elderberry Syrup is another staple in our household. My whole family uses it, even my 1 year old, for any cold, flu, infection or virus! This thick deep purple goodness is full of antioxidants including vitamin c and is known to shorten the duration of illness. The Gaia brand calls for 1 tsp a day for maintenance and 2 tsp daily when under the weather.
I. love. ginger. Yes, I love this stuff! It’s an amazing anti-inflammatory that not only tamps down inflammation but boosts the immune system as well. It also helps me with occasional acid reflux by increasing stomach acid (which I’ll get into in another post).
Mastitis is inflammation in the breast so I drank ginger tea and I also chewed on raw organic ginger. Yup, I chewed on a little piece of raw ginger then threw it away. I did this a few times a day, usually before a meal so that I got the benefit of better digestion too.
Hot / Cold Therapy
Hot/cold therapy is a must. I alternated between the two for the greatest effect. I took warm showers and followed it up later with ice packs. I covered the ice pack in a paper towel in put it directly in my nursing bra on the sore area. The cold packs provide immediate pain relief and I kept them in all day (except when nursing).
Speaking of nursing, I nursed as I much as I could on the affected side. This was trickier than the 1st time I had mastitis because now I have a 1.5 year old who only nurses 3-4x daily and for short periods. But that said, she’s strong and efficient and left me empty after each session, which is what I needed to relieve the pressure.
Sleep is vital when fighting any infection. It’s is a powerful component of the immune system. I’ve read that the lack of sleep of new moms actually contributes to mastitis because less sleep, equals lower immune function. Sleep is not easy to come by with a newborn or in my case, even a toddler. So while it’s not easy, get sleep when you can. And be sure to drink lots of fluids, especially if you have a fever. The sooner you heal, the sooner you’ll have more energy to get back on track.
One size doesn’t fit all and this will not cure or prevent every case of mastitis. The key to these treatments is using them as soon as you suspect mastitis and before you have a raging infection. Be well!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This site’s content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Readers should consult their own qualified health care professional for medical advice.