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Mothering › Groups › July 2013 Due Date Club › Discussions › Mastitis and Breast Abscess Hell

Mastitis and Breast Abscess Hell

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I wanted to write this post mostly for educational purposes so if any of you ends up in my situation, you will have a better chance at spotting it early and an easier recovery.

I noticed a small lump in my breast directly behind my nipple in my baby's second week. I suspected it to be a plugged duct so rigorously tried to rid myself of it using the traditional methods of moist heat, breast compressions, lots of nursing, nursing in crazy positions etc. The pain lessened but the lump still remained. I was overwhelmed at the time with my recovery from the c section so since the pain was gone I figured it was fine. Every successive week the "plugged duct" would reoccur and the process to stop the pain would resume and succeed, only the lump kept getting bigger. In my dd2's seventh week the lump had grown to about the size of an egg and things started getting serious.

Enter Mastitis...if you have never experienced it, it is its own brand of hell. It started with feeling terrible, then the chills and nightsweats and the fever of 104. At one point my dh was afraid I was dying because I could not stop shaking and this is AFTER I started antibiotics. After 3 days on antibiotics (Keflex) the lump had grown to the size of an apple and I could no longer nurse because my nipple was completely abstructed by the lump. My breast was an angry red and very hot and 3 times larger than my unaffected breast. At this point I went back to the Dr. who sent me for an ultrasound and changed my antibiotic to dicloxacillin. It was at the u/s that the abscess was diagnosed and confirmed with a needle aspiration (needle stuck in my breast under local anesthesia) of pus, plus 40cc's of blood and milk were drained from a galactocele that had formed.

The liquid was sent for culture and I was sent home to see if I improved. I did not. The next day another u/s showed an even larger galactocele and I was sent to a surgeon. Here is where I want to give advice. At that point he looks at my breast and tells me, point blank, that I will have to stop nursing immediately because my breastmilk is "feeding the infection" and he cannot operate on a lactating woman. This is plain and simple ignorance and bullshit. Luckily I had consulted with a lactation consultant prior to this so I knew that I would not need to stop nursing. I told him this so he said he would give me the weekend for the new antibiotic to start working and I rented a hospital grade pump where the LC there also confirmed that there was no reason the stop nursing.

Monday came around with no improvement so the surgeon said to send me to surgery the next day with his colleague to insert a catheter into the abscess to drain it. Again he said that I would need to stop nursing but this time I refused, telling him what my LC had told me. The next day I went in for my procedure, an I&D (incision and drainage), at the hospital under general anesthesia. I took my baby with me so I could nurse right away and even marked out the lines of my breast pump so the surgeon could know where to avoid. I met him and we discussed this. Unfortunately he had no plans of actually doing the I&D so I woke up from anesthesia only having had another needle aspiration. I was confused and frustrated.

Three days later at my post op appointment the surgeon tells me that he didn't feel that he could work on a lactating breast and I would need an injection to dry up my milk. Otherwise they were going to do twice weekly aspirations in the office until this clears up, which may take weeks or even months. I had my third aspiration at the office that day. BTW that is a miserable procedure.

That was last Friday and my breast is much the same. I am unable to pump more than 5 oz. a day from the affected breast but luckily my other breast has taken over much of the production and we only needed a little bit if donor milk to keep dd from losing too much weight. She is gaining again, thank goodness.

I am glad to have stuck to my guns about continuing to lactate as I have been backed up by numerous sources including the experts and women who have undergone the same procedure. I am discouraged at the ignorance of these surgeons who not only refuse to consult with lactation consultants but also wont even read the protocols for dealing with this. I see another surgeon tomorrow and this time I will not back down. I will demand the I&D so I can finally start to heal.

Please, if you ever have to deal with this, don't let yourself be bullied into stopping breastfeeding.
post #2 of 14
TDE that sounds awful. Prayers and healing vibes to you as you make your way through this. Good for you for sticking to your guns about breastfeeding despite the ignorance and arrogance of the doctors. Please keep us posted on your progress.
post #3 of 14
Pm'd you
post #4 of 14
Thanks for sharing your story, and for sticking to what you know is best. Also posting it in the "breastfeeding challenges" board will make it easier to find for non-members.
post #5 of 14
Oh my gosh! What a disaster with those doctors! I hope you get better soon. Hugs and high-fives mama!!
post #6 of 14
Oh my! I hope you heal fast and that the pain will be manageable.
post #7 of 14
I am so angry for you, mama! I can not believe these surgeons.

I hope this next one will be more reasonable and you are able to finally get some relief!
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Oh my! The last surgeon I saw was the worst of the three! A total jerk! The first thing he does is ask me how long I planned to breastfeed and when I told him "as long as she (my baby) wants" he just rolled his eyes. He said that I wouldn't get better unless I stopped breastfeeding entirely and he chastised me for continuing to breastfeed while on antibiotics because my baby was getting them through my breastmilk (this was a safe antibiotic btw). He agreed to schedule me for the procedure but told me it would fail because I refused to stop breastfeeding. I was scheduled for the procedure but left the appointment feeling awful. After an afternoon of contemplation I called my lactation consultant and we had a long chat. I was feeling a lot of anxiety about allowing these men to operate on me given how disrespectful they had been about my wishes and my LC warned me that if they were not careful, they could damage my breasts as a result and it would be on my head because I went against advice. I cancelled the surgery.

So we decided to try to wean on the affected side. I didn't want to do this but considering my options I felt I didn't have much choice. Luckily wrenmoon stepped in with her herbal wisdom and I am trying some things she recommended. This is far from over but I feel like I have taken back control of the situation and that gives me peace.
post #9 of 14

sending hugs mama...that sounds really rough...but i can hear you're in a much firmer place now. i hope the healing goes well. i just want to encourage you if you do end up just breastfeeding on 1 breast--the body is amazing. it is certainly not the same situation but i am tandem nursing and since the very beginning my DS gave Zoe one breast and he took the other. he nurses less frequently, but she only gets her breast (because i can't give her his in front of him). anyways, she's growing great and she has enough milk. the other breast to me looks smaller because he nurses less...hers fills up more. but, it's working. hugs again....and keep us updated!

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks ashleybrook! That is exactly what I needed to hear! Also, I grew up in Riverside. It is always fun to see someone on Mothering from back home.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by talldarkeyes View Post

Oh my! The last surgeon I saw was the worst of the three! A total jerk! The first thing he does is ask me how long I planned to breastfeed and when I told him "as long as she (my baby) wants" he just rolled his eyes. He said that I wouldn't get better unless I stopped breastfeeding entirely and he chastised me for continuing to breastfeed while on antibiotics because my baby was getting them through my breastmilk (this was a safe antibiotic btw). He agreed to schedule me for the procedure but told me it would fail because I refused to stop breastfeeding. I was scheduled for the procedure but left the appointment feeling awful. After an afternoon of contemplation I called my lactation consultant and we had a long chat. I was feeling a lot of anxiety about allowing these men to operate on me given how disrespectful they had been about my wishes and my LC warned me that if they were not careful, they could damage my breasts as a result and it would be on my head because I went against advice. I cancelled the surgery.

So we decided to try to wean on the affected side. I didn't want to do this but considering my options I felt I didn't have much choice. Luckily wrenmoon stepped in with her herbal wisdom and I am trying some things she recommended. This is far from over but I feel like I have taken back control of the situation and that gives me peace.

 

Oh mama, I am so sorry that these jerks have put you in this position.  That's ridiculous.  

 
I am glad though that you have a supportive LC and that you've got a plan of action and a sense of peace!  Much love and many hugs for you!
post #12 of 14
That sounds terrible, talldarkeyes! I think your awesome for sticking stubbornly to what you believe in!!
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Update: No more pumping! I am back to nursing exclusively and nurse twice a day on the affected breast to give it a bit of a break. There is still a lot of hardness but no pain anymore. I ended up nearly getting Mastitis again in the OTHER breast! It took me 3 days but I was eventually able to clear it up. It looks like I am going to have to plan on being mostly homebound for the next three months or so as this only happens when we have a busy day out.
post #14 of 14

Talldarkeyes, that's amazing. Way to go you!!! 

My midwife told me when I had mastitis that it was really tied to how active I was trying to be. She told me one day at home to recuperate after every day out and about.... I think she was right. I have been taking it a LOT easier since I got mastitis. Also, lecithin. Are you taking some? My midwife said it helps keep the milk from clogging, and I haven't had trouble since I started taking it (and resting more). I mix a liquid-y form of it into smoothies. 

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