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Recurring mastitis

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am so burned out... forgive any typo's

My son is almost 4 months old, and he is EBF.
We had a rough start, but I stuck to it (want to b/f until age 2 at least)

When he was about a month old I got mastitis.. didn't know enough about it then, and took abx. I got thrush (that's another thread.. I just got rid of it)

Since that first time, I've had mastitis about 6 or 7 times (I'm losing count now - all I know is I haven't gone longer than two weeks without it showing up) I've had double mastitis twice.
My oversupply seems to be a trigger...

It doesn't always get to the fever/chills stage, b/c I have routine that I do that seems to work (other than this last time - I had to take abx again)

I know mine is NOT caused by plugged ducts (The LC's and myself have been poking at my boobs for a couple of months now, and there has never been a lump)

I've tried every remedy out there and nothing keeps it away. I'm sure it's caused by some drug resistant form of bacteria (strep or staph) but they don't culture the milk here (in Ontario)

I'm going to a naturopath tomorrow.. I'm hoping she will offer something... anything.

I'm so on edge all the time, b/c I know it's not long before that painful red patch will appear again (no stress is not good for breast health)

My little guy is still very hard to nurse b/c of my overactive letdown (he is constantly squirmy, popping off..) I have a few techniques at home that seem to help that, but the minute we step into public nursing becomes an absolute disaster (and incomplete/missed feedings also seem to trigger mastitis)

Has anyone else had recurring mastitis?
How did you cope with the stress/anxiety of it? (including being a shut in, while resting to make sure it heals)
Did it ever stop coming back?
Did you have to take abx everytime? (I've so nervous about having to take it again.. twice is too many times for me)

Thank you
post #2 of 18
I have no words of wisdom, just sympathy.
post #3 of 18

What about taking lecithin? I know it helps for plugged ducts...
Here is kellymom's page on recurrent mastitis:http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/...-mastitis.html
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the suggestion.
Unfortunately the handful of times I've taken lecithin my little guy seems to get really uncomfortable gas... and so I stop taking it.
Kellymom does have some great suggestions, but nothing seems to stop it from coming back.

In fact I got it again on the last day I was taking abx..(yesterday) and it started in the tissue right at my ribs, now today I have a huge red patch on the top of my boob (it frequently moves it's way around my boob)

Definitely no lump...just feels like someone took a baseball bat to my boob.

Ugghhh... this sucks!!!!
post #5 of 18
I had recurring mastitis for 18 months. It destroyed my life at the time... I really can't even describe what I went through. At one point my fever was so high that I hallucinated. In retrospect I sometimes think I should have stopped BFing. It's impossible to mother when you're in that much pain.

Are you sure you were put on the right kind of antibiotics? What were you given?

Are you doing anything that could cause upper body strain, i.e. slinging, carrying baby, carrying anything, yard work, etc.? If so, stop indefinitely.

Are you wearing tight or underwire bras or clothing? If so, stop that.

What is your diet like? Could it be improved? Could you be anemic?

The maximum dose of advil can help to decrease inflammation.

A "natural" thing you can try is 6 RAW cloves of garlic for 7 days. I mashed it with olive oil and salt, spread it on bread, and it was edible. Eat large amounts of raw parsley to decrease supply, peppermint tea will also decrease supply.

You really should seek out the advice of a breast specialist and be under medical care, IMO. Especially if you think you have MRSA, you might need a stronger antibiotic.

Does your baby have eczema around his/her mouth or face that could be infecting your breast? Eczema has all kinds of bacteria on it.

Feel free to PM me! hugs!
post #6 of 18
Do you mind if I copy and paste what I just posted in the thread right under yours? I got repeated mastitis as well. I never actually noticed a plugged duct before hand, but I do think the wrong size bras were the main source of the problems. Mine stopped coming back when I FINALLY got the right bra size, and got quality nursing bras instead of regular bras. I honestly feel that if you happen to be prone to mastitis, a good quality nursing bra (see my note below on the difference between a cheap nursing bra and a quality nursing bra) is a medical necessity. Here it is...

1) Lots and LOTS of raw garlic or garlic pills really knocked my mastitis out whenver I'd start to feel it coming on. I would get that feeling like it was starting to come on, start garlic right away, and never actually get it. PLEASE tell her to do lots of garlic. It must be raw. Or either the pills. If she wants to go the way of the raw type, take a clove, and cut it up into pill sized peices and swallow whole (with a drink) like pills. Do it like every hour if she feels it coming on.

2) Does she have thrush issues? If so, they can cause repeated mastitis if left unchecked, even if the thrust doesnt seem severe. When I took acidophilus pills (the refridgerated type) on a regular basis, I didn't get mastitis as often.

3) GET MEASURED BY A PROFFESSIONAL FOR A GOOD BRA!! The majority of women walk around in the wrong bra size. THIS IS DETRIMENTAL TO YOUR NURSING RELATIONSHIP IF YOU HAPPEN TO ONE OF THOSE WOMEN LIKE US WHO ARE PRONE TO MASTITIS. I can't say the following often enough: Motherhood people are not proffessionals (where I made my mistake with my bra size was listening to them tell me what size I wore...I went months believing them and months getting mastitis). A lot of these chain lingerie stores are not good either. Find a bra boutique and get properly measured. Invest in 2 or 3 really good bras. Don't do underwire bras until you get the mastitis occurrences under control. (She can try a quality underwire nursing bra later after she gets her mastitis bouts under control to see if they affect her or not if she wants to, some people don't have problems with them, some do...) I liked goddess. If I looked at an underwire, I got mastitis, and I wear a g-cup. I liked Goddess because I got the type with no underwire and got EXCELLENT support and my mastitis occurrences dramatically decreased after I switched to goddess in the proper size. When I told my bra measuring lady what size i wore she was like " No shug. You wear this size." I was like....oh. I was WAYYYY off.

>>>a side note on bras. There are bras that you can use for nursing in. And then there are nursing bras. Cheap nursing bras are basically just regularly cut average bras with cuttouts/latches/hooks etc for easy access nursing. Good quality *nursing bras* are actually made to accomodate all the extra little hidden milk ducts that regular bras may cut off. Cutting them off causes them to get blocked and causes mastitis. Good quality nursing bras may be a bit more expensive. but trust this cheap mama when I say, my goddess was my best friend, and you REALLY need to spend that money for them

Anyhow, I have to say that during the 3 years I nursed my munchkin, I had mastitis at least 10 times (very well could have been more) before I figured it all out. But tell her to hang in there!!
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hmmm... okay here I go

Bra - I've given up wearing one altogether, just tanks that don't put any pressure on the "girls" at all. Doesn't look pretty with the pads I try to put on, but who am I trying to impress.

Sling - yes, but not all the time, and I try to position my son so he's not pressing anywear. BUT, I do carry him in arms a lot (he's been fussy lately) and he is against the boobs then...hmmm, have to be more careful of this.

Abx - I was put on Doxy... and keflex... both I know are for mastitis.. my infection doesn't seem to know that though

Garlic - oh I've tried the garlic, and oh my boy suffers terribly, I just can't ingest it anymore or he'll wake every hour crying. I've also tried the garlic/olive oil on the breast.

Baby- no eczema/thrush around the mouth

Advil - I do have the 600mg ones, which I take sparingly

Ladies - I'm so sorry that you have had this so many times too... you are right about it being so hard to mother when you are in that much pain. It really is like a baseball bat to the boob.

I can't believe you ladies stuck with b/f for so long, despite this horrible thing. That really gives me courage to keep going. None of my family , friends have experienced this, so they don't understand why I keep canceling outings and things.

I'm going to have to ask my breastfeeding dr about going to see a breast specialist. When I asked her if I could get my milk cultured she said they do that in the US, but not here (in Canada), but I'm thinking that can't be right. She's out of ideas, so maybe she'll refer me. I really think that if we knew what strain of bacteria it was, it would be much easier than guessing with abx....ugh!
post #8 of 18
Springmum, are you in Ontario? It sounds like you have been through the wringer with this!
Perhaps an email to Jack Newman may give some ideas? I'm not sure if he takes consults any more or if his clinic is strickly private pay for service, but it may be worth checking out.
post #9 of 18
Originally Posted by springmum View Post
Advil - I do have the 600mg ones, which I take sparingly
Advil is an anti-inflammatory so it will help prevent the milk ducts from becoming inflamed. If it doesn't affect your stomach, take the maximum OTC counter even after you are feeling better. I was taking 400 mg every 4-8 hours pretty much around the clock for weeks. It did seem to help.

How could they not culture breastmilk...? Well even if they don't they could treat the infection assuming it is MRSA. Definitely keep looking for opinions on this.

I know what you mean about canceling things. I couldn't attend my gma's 100th birthday party, and my mother is angry with me to this day about it (5 years later)... no one understands how horrible this is to endure.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Jack Newman... good idea, didn't think of that.

I will start taking the advil a little more...I'm silly and feel guilty about taking meds even though I know DS doesn't get much through the breastmilk.

Thanks ladies!
post #11 of 18
Does it help at all for you to take regular daily doses of acidophilus? That helped me a LOT. I think I actually had thrush from the get-go, (antibiotic at birth) but it was basically invisible for a long time accept for very vague almost unoticable symptoms that I thought were no big deal. (One white spot in the kiddo's mouth. Occassional cloudy looking nipples. That was pretty much it for over a year.) I think I read somewhere that the thrush could be in your breasts and easily clog up your ducts causing lots of mastitis. Especially if you've been having to take antibiotics, acidophilus is a good idea.

How about that soy thing? I never tried that myself, but lots of ladies here swear by it.

I'm not sure how...um.......large your "girls" are, but I know, for me, if I didn't wear a bra at all, I still got it often. When I started wearing the right type of bra, it helped trememdously. I mean, I think how they, er...lay upon themselves wasn't helping keep those girls up, and lifted off of themselves and the ducts unobstructed, you know? But the thing is with me, my girls were(are) huge. I think it would be less of an issue about wearing a bra if you don't wear a g cup like I do. Honestly, if you do think you wear a DD or more, I'd still go get fitted. I thought I wore a DD, and actually I wear a G. Unless you are tiny, I still would look into getting a fitting and at least one quality nursing bra.

I'm so sorry garlic doesn't work for you. Garlic worked just like an antibiotic for me. I didn't stop getting it until I corrected the thrush and bra problems, but man, garlic made the difference between having it for a week, being in the bed, feeling like the flu, and just feeling vaguely yucky for about 3 days. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. It just doesn't seem fair.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions:

I've been taking various probiotics since being pregnant.
I did get thrush after the first round of abx, but just recently got rid of it (it was only on the nips) I've had mastitis since healing from thrush. (I am still treating myself as if I have thrush just in case - vinegar rinses, tanning etc.)

My uh "girls" aren't so big... B or C cup, but maybe I will look for a good bra anyway. Where did you ladies go to get fitted, just a regular bra store?

The soy thing doesn't work for my little guy, similar to the garlic, he gets very gassy for some reason.

Sooner or later we have to be able to figure this out... thanks again!!
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Okay we have some progress!! (I think)

I actually got a speedy response from Dr. Newman, and he thinks thrush is causing it.

The one thing he confused me on though, was that if I never had lump, I never had mastitis.
I'm pretty sure the intense pain, fever, chills, muscle aches weren't in my head...does thrush cause that too??

So could I have thrush in my ducts and not know it? ( I thought there were some distinctive symptoms of this?) My dr. didn't seem to think I had ductal thrush, but then again, they don't know why I keep getting mastitis....

I guess it can't hurt to treat myself as if I had ductal thrush right?

Things I'm doing already are:

No yeast/sugar (since he was month old)
lot's of probiotics (since being pregnant)
Eating healthy (I could write a book I eat so healthy)

I can't take diflucan due to liver issues, so that leaves GSE orally.

Do I just take the GSE and nothing else? (space it between the probiotics?)
I remember reading that GSE kills good and bad bacteria, would the probiotics put the good back in?

Sorry for all the questions, but I wouldn't have got anywhere without you ladies!!
post #14 of 18
I do know this much: thrush can very easily get up into your ducts, and when it does, topical nipple treatments and so forth are not going to work for it, you need to take something orally. And anyhow, if you just have thrush on your nipples, that can't really cause mastitis. Mastitis is your ducts getting infected and the thrush would have to have worked it's way up in your ducts to causing such an internal infection with fever and all.

When you got mastitis after treating your thrush, were you taking *internal* probiotics, or just only treating the nipples? Vinegar rinses and anything that's not going inside of your body into your ducts is not going to help the thrush in there. The absolute ONLY indication I had that I was having thrush inside my ducts was repeated mastitis that only regular doses of acidophilus would keep away. Otherwise, my nipples looked very healthy.

Do you live anywhere where there might be bra boutiques? I think those are the very best places to go and get fitted for a bra. I went and got fitted at 2 different Motherhood maternity stores and got the same wrong advice--namely that if you can go up band sizes to equal a larger cup size. Like, if you wear a 34D, and they didn't have that size, then a 36C would work. And this is absolutely 100% wrong, and I think it's standard training at all the motherhoods. The actually had me walking around in something like a 40D when really I wore like a 32/34g or so. (Some f's, depending on if the bra runs large.) I don't think Victoria Secret is all that great either. I went to a little boutique in northern VA who specialized in plus size measurements (though she did all sizes as well). You could also call up a lactation consultant in your area and get suggestions of where to go to get a good accurate measurement on your bra size. The larger city you go to, the more resources they'll have for good bra measurings, I have found.

Personally I don't understand how if you "never had a lump, then you never had mastitis..." That's weird to me. What's even weirder is that they don't think you have ductal thrush. Thrush on the skin can't really cause all the fever and aches and stuff you were having. Something internal inside your body had to have been going on. And anyhow, maybe you had a lump, and it was deep in the breast and you weren't readily able to feel it...just because you never felt one doesn't mean that it was never there. And I thought the term mastitis simply means an infection of one of your breasts. I mean, a lump and mastitis could be connected, but it never occurred to me that the lump NEEDED to be there in order for it to be considered mastitis. In any case, you obviously had an infection in your breast, which is what I thought mastitis was.

I did take lots of GSE for thrush, but I preferred the acidophilus. When I took gse long enough, it gave me diarreah. Thrush is a pain to get rid of. Don't forget to treat your nursling for it to, and everything he sucks on and all your bras too. I got rid of everything my kiddo sucked on and got new stuff for him, and I put drops of liquid gse in my washing machine when I washed my bras on a regular basis.

I took gse pills and I used liquid gse in a distilled water mixture to treat my nipples with it. I had to take it very regularly to keep the thrush away. You can take liquid gse internally as well, but I found it extremely bitter, and the pills went down better for me.

Maybe more moms who are more expert on how to take the gse in conjuction with the probiotics will come in and help. Maybe you can start another thread specific to that question to draw them to it?

Wish I could help more.
post #15 of 18
On the ductal thrush topic - my LC went to a conference where Dr. Hale spoke about recent research that indicates ductal thrush is much MUCH rarer than diagnosed -- and what is usually diagnosed is actually staph infection. The research is supposed to to be published in the fall, and treatment protocols for breast and nipple pain are to be adjusted accordingly. I wish I had the article to cite -- she said she'll let me know as soon as it's published.

Anyway - another thing to consider -- are you sleeping with weight on the breasts? If I sleep on my stomach (oh how I love stomach sleeping.....) I pay in breast pain. My bouts of mastitis have been due to clogs - both in the breasts and from blebs completely occluding pores.

Some of the clogs I really couldn't feel from the outside - they were very deep in the breast. I could feel there was a clog there - the breast just didn't feel quite right - but I could not find it to massage it! Then the redness started...oooh I hate mastitis. Garlic has worked really well - also rubbing lavender oil on my feet. There are better essential oils, but that one I always have around. Clove oil is supposed to be better - or Thieves Blend.

Someone also made me a "breast blend" that I rub into the breast tissue at my armpit on the effected side. I can find the recipe if that interests you.

I've got breast pain management down to a science (ds is 5 months). When something doesn't feel right, I start pumping whenever I can, massaging in the shower, taking acetametaphen, the lavender, the garlic, making sure I take my lecithin, I use an anti-fungal between feedings when it's just nipple pain (I've had a bad relationship with yeast since I was a child), I use an antibiotic ointment and lanolin when I have a bleb (to soften, open, and then prevent infection).
post #16 of 18

me too

Hi there,
I also had recurrent mastitis for almost 20 months. It took years off my life.
I saw Dr. Jack Newman, did the abx twice, tried homeopathics and nothing changed. What saved my sanity was acupuncture. Within 5 days of 5 treatments I was totally healed. My acupuncturist said that the causes were partly physical but even more so emotional. She used needles to get things flowing and asked me what I am so angry about...well, I had a lot to say and since acknowledging all that stuff and keeping monthly appointments I have been mastitis free.

Hope you can be too.
Good Luck Mama...I know how hard it can be.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wow, I guess maybe the ductal thrush is what's causing the mastitis. I didn't think there always had to be a lump to be mastitis, but Dr. Newman insisted that was the case...
It's so frustrating when you go to dr's for help, and you end up having to diagnose yourself anyway.

I don't remember why my dr didn't think it was ductal thrush... maybe b/c I wasn't showing any other symptoms besides the recurring infections?

I guess what it comes down to is I know my body. I know I'm getting constant infections...whatever they are.... and I need to stop them.

My plan is to ake GSE orally, and continue with a high dose probiotic, vit c, advil etc.

I'm now only sleeping on back as well, just in case side sleeping is causing it too.

I was wondering about staph myself, but according to Dr. Newman he thinks a culture won't tell us anything. (and my dr. said they don't even do cultures)
Dr. Newman also said breast specialists don't have a lot of knowledge about lactating type issues.... strange huh?

So I will treat myself as if I have ductal thrush and see if that makes a difference...

Thanks again ladies, you give me more info than the dr's!!
post #18 of 18
This is exactly what happened to me, and I actually went ahead and opted for the 30 day Diflucan route because I was spiking fevers of 106 and it was landing me in the hospital every month. It was really bad. I have to say, I don't usually do pharmaceuticals, but that was worth it and I haven't had a problem since. And nursing hurts a whole heck of a lot less too. I'm glad I went that route. Good luck to you!
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