It feels weird to write about this because it is still so fresh. I still cannot believe this happened to me. I’ve only been healed up for about a month so maybe the shock will wear off. It was totally nuts. I’m going to ruin the ending and tell you what I would tell my best friend: if you have mastitis, take the antibiotics. Here goes…
I developed a plugged duct and mastitis when my baby was 5 days old. My midwife told me to eat raw garlic and take vitamin C and some herbs and that it should go away. It didn’t go away. But since I was told that should work, I didn’t think mastitis was a big deal. So I kept trying. Didn’t work. Over the next two weeks I tried every other remedy anyone suggested. I figured if garlic should be able to cure it – it must not be too big of a deal and I just had to find the right combination of things… So I tried:
Castor oil packs.
Steaming, wet towels.
Bending over to dip into sink full of warm water.
Nursing in every position I could bend myself into.
Massage with coconut oil and a few drops of Thieves.
Raw potato packs.
I tried so many things I can’t even remember them all.
Nothing worked, and eventually I found myself with a lump in my breast the size of a kiwi. I went to see a breast specialist and she attempted to aspirate the abscess with a needle in the office (with local numbing with Lidocaine). She also then prescribed antibiotics. Over the next three days it did not improve at all. I went back into the office and she attempted to aspirate it again. Only this time I had a very bad reaction to the Lidocaine being injected in the area – and I ended up in more pain than when I labored and gave birth. (And I had a 28 hour labor and homebirth with no pain medicine. Just sayin). She scheduled surgery for the next day.
So there I was getting ready for the surgery. Having to leave my one month old for the first time? Scary for me. It was very nerve-wracking but I was relieved that the end was in sight. It was a long day and a lot of pain over the next weeks. The wound had to heal from the inside so it had to be packed with gauze tape. And let me tell you…it is really bizarre to have two feet of gauze tape stuffed into your breast. To make a long, long, long story short…it wasn’t packed often enough in the very beginning but once I got on the right track with nurses coming to my house to pack it daily it started to heal. Milk started leaking from the wound a couple of days after the surgery and made the wound very slow to heal though. In all, it took about 2 months of daily packing for it to close up.
I ended up getting mastitis again during that 2 months and took 2 more rounds of antibiotics. The baby and I both got secondary infections from that. So I had to start bottle feeding him and pumping/dumping. (Pumping and dumping every two hours while also having to bottle feed a newborn – and wash all pumping and bottle related supplies – is it’s own special hell that I would never wish on anyone. It was really, really hard. I wished many times that I had never started breastfeeding). Eventually it was being packed with only about 1 inch of gauze. At that point the surgeon thought we should “take a gamble” and stop packing it and see if it would heal. It finished healing within a couple of days. It leaked milk the whole time but it eventually healed. Crazy times. I’m really still stunned! As if caring for a newborn isn’t hard enough!
If you found this post because you are going through the same thing – I’m so sorry. But know it will pass and that someone out here knows your exact pain!