Mastitis is a Real Pain in the Boob

I woke up a couple of weeks ago thinking I was dying. After looking up my symptoms on Google, turns out I could have been dying or just suffering from internal bleeding, influenza or mastitis. Since my boobs felt like they had turned to stone and could be used as weapons, I determined I had mastitis.

Called my doctor and got on a 10-day regimen of antibiotics and was told to nurse a lot (which seems counter productive to me but apparently it's the best cure) drink lots of fluid and rest (ha). I felt like someone had hit me in the back with a steel rod, ached all over, had a migraine all with fever.

According to the CDC, in 2016 so far, 81 percent of moms start breastfeeding. This number drops to 51.8 percent by 6 months and to 30.7 percent by one year. Percentages for breastfeeding exclusively through 3 months and 6 months drops 22 percent from 44 percent to 22.3 percent. Why? Because breastfeeding is flippin' HARD. I didn't make it through two months of exclusive breastfeeding with Toddler Bish, because he had low blood sugar and had to be supplemented with formula from DAY ONE, plus I had to use a nipple shield, which he would toss across the room at 3:00 in the morning making me doubt my love for him...ok it didn't do that, but it definitely hurt the mother/child bonding experience.

Honestly, I loathe breastfeeding. Just to be real. It doesn't give me happy fuzzies or fill me full of wonder and awe — I wish it did and I applaud the moms who can say they love it. I'm just not wired that way. Plus the Internet makes me angry. I don't know if I have the proper latch, proper positioning, proper diet, etc. I have no idea if I need supplements and if someone asks me about hindmilk and foremilk one more time, I'm going to explode. I also applaud moms who can nurse discreetly. I can't get the proper latch and positioning while remaining fully clothed. And there's nothing that strips you of your dignity more than being hooked up to a pump like a professional Holstein while Mr. Bish asks you 5,000 questions assuming that you know all the ins and outs of breastfeeding and Toddler Bish pokes you in the belly button yelling "Bottle!"

I took Baby Bish to my hospital's weigh-in clinic after getting mastitis to see if she was gaining enough. She was doing fine but apparently the reason she didn't sleep but two hours the night before is because my milk supply had seriously tanked. It didn't help that I had like 3,000 clogged ducts, which I wasn't even aware of. Oh, and Baby Bish is a lazy nurser. As if we didn't have enough problems on my end, she wasn't coming through on her end either. I then was taught how to make her "more assertive" and what to do and look for so I could hopefully prevent this from happening again. Love the lactation consultants that I worked with, mainly because I'm not exactly easy to read and they just went with the flow and didn't look too shocked at anything I said that might have been construed as completely inappropriate.

When they asked the group if we had any more questions, after my individual session, I, of course, had one. "When will I get to the point where I no longer want to slice my nipples off?" Apparently 6 weeks is the sweet spot. We will see. She's 5 weeks old today, so I'll let you know. She is getting better on the "more assertive" front.

Of course, now that I've been pumping and nursing to drain all the milk out to keep from getting mastitis, I now am seriously overproducing. I never thought I would be irritated by that. I didn't have hardly any supply the first time around (thanks again nipple shield), so you would think too much milk would be a nice problem. It isn't, especially when combined with an overactive letdown, which essentially means, I'm drowning my baby. I'm also drowning all my clothing and seating areas in my house.

I honestly have no idea why I'm still doing it and haven't switched to formula. I'm not the most disciplined or mentally strong person. I have to be really interested to persevere most of the time. However, I keep trucking, because I've been told it will get better; because it's good for Baby Bish who is adorable and worth it; and because apparently it helps me burn 500 extra calories a day (there ought to be at least one perk to this).

So if you haven't had children yet, just know, that breastfeeding is not purely instinctual with either party — even the baby has to learn how. Go in prepared for the crazy insanely hard times of the first few weeks and you just might make it. But if you don't, there's absolutely NO SHAME in using formula. Toddler Bish is hilarious, smart, well mannered (sometimes) and thriving and he's a formula-fed baby. Don't succumb to pressure from anyone to breastfeed no matter what. Only you know your situation, and happiness and a healthy mentality for both you and baby needs to be a priority — you're going to have enough problems without the boob shaming. And take all the advice with appreciation...you're going to get a ton of it and it will most likely conflict with everything else. Don't waste time or energy being irritated at well-meaning people.

And that's my 2 cents. Oh, and, if you get mastitis, I am truly sorry...it's the worst.

KB

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