My son is 4 wks old and I've been having various issues since he was born. I'll try to be brief, but there's been a lot going on and I'm desperate for some answers and help.
At one week old, I got mastitis (raging fever, aches, chills, red breast, etc). I was able to get rid of the acute symptoms without antibiotics with my midwife's protocol. Felt better, started to resume normal activity and it came back at week two. This happened two more times even though I got better about not overdoing it. I literally stayed in bed for much of the time getting out only to shower, eat, or let the dog out. Each time I've gotten better about getting rid of the fever and aches quickly, but it's still very frustrating. It hurt a lot to nurse him, but I did it. The flow seemed to slow a lot on that breast and it was difficult to pump anything. Earlier this week a bunch of gunk came out after he nursed and the flow has been better since. I have massaged it, used heat, soaked it in the tub, etc and that seems to have helped drain it. All sounds like mastitis type things, right? Not so fast,,.
In the last week or so, I developed a cracked nipple on the breast that had the mastitis. In addition, I am now experiencing a burning sensation on my nipples and aerolas (on both breasts) even when he isn't nursing. It comes and goes, but it very uncomfortable when it happens. Nursing on the good side feels a little uncomfortable, but more like overly sensitive than true pain. On the bad side, it's like he is nursing with razor blades in his mouth. The pain is intense and makes me cry at times. It lasts for about 30 seconds or so and then starts to subside, but it never gets comfortable. Then towards the end of the session (or at least I make it the end of the session), the pain starts to become sharper again and I eventually take him off after the boob feels like it's drained enough.
So possible culprits:
Mastitis - yes I know I have had this and I need to continue to rest to be sure it doesn't come back again. I am sure this is what I had/have, but I don't think it explains the extreme pain or the burning sensation.
Thrush - baby has NO signs of thrush...no fussiness at all, no white patches in his mouth, no diaper rash, no clicking when he eats (though I heard it a couple times, it's not pervasive and seems better in our new nursing position); The only signs I have are the pain when nursing, I have a burning sensation even when he isn't nursing, and my aerola is shiny. I don't have a vaginal yeast infection or any scaling or flaking on my breasts.
Raynaud's - I don't think it's this, but my midwife spoke to a LC who said it could be this. I have no discoloration of the nipple that I've noticed, but I'll keep an eye out for that.
So I was thinking I had mastitis (recovering) AND thrush. My midwife does not think it's thrush since the baby has no signs and I only have a couple. The LC she spoke too also does not think it's thrush, but Raynaud's instead. My diet has been crappy the last few weeks because I've been sick in bed so I've eaten whatever is easy. Not a ton of junky food, but much more processed than usual for me so maybe that contributes to the thrush if it is thrush.
So here are all the symptoms (with baby having no issues at all):
- redness to my breasts, though that is improving
- shiny aerola on my left breast (bad boob) - so shiny you can see reflections in it
- extreme pain when he latches on to the point of tears (feels like razors) on the bad boob and sensitivity on the good boob
- cracked nipple, but my midwife said it's not severe at all
- pain when nursing subsides a little after the latching, but persists to some degree throughout the session and increases again towards the end
- nipples so sore that it hurts to wear clothing on any kind
- burning sensation when he is NOT eating, though it will often burn on the opposite boob that he is nursing from
- sometimes a shooting pain
The burning and shooting pain are new and worsening. The mastitis stuff seems to be improving.
I spoke to a LLL leader who helped me try a new position to make sure he was latching good and he does seem to have a good latch. I am meeting with a LC tomorrow who can confirm that for me and see if she thinks of anything else. Over the phone she suggested Raynaud's, but it doesn't seem like that to me. It sounds thrush-y to me, but I really don't know.
I'm so frustrated because I was so looking forward to breastfeeding and it's been nothing but obstacles the whole first month of his life. I'm not giving up and have no intentions of ever giving up...not an option to me as I am very determined. I just wish I could get it to hurt less. I dread every nursing session and am tearing up right now just thinking about it.
I was thinking of starting over the counter treatment for thrush to see if it helped since it shouldn't hurt right? I was going to try clotrimazole (Lotrimin) or micanozole (Monistat) put on the boobs, grapefruit seed extract rinse/wiped on the nipples, clean up the diet, increase probiotics, and take grapefruit seed extract orally. In addition I'll continue to make sure to have him nurse and drain the boobs to avoid more mastitis, drink lots of fluid, and rest.
What do you guys think? I'm desperate. It's really impacted my ability to fully enjoy this last month. I've been bedridden and extremely frustrated. I hate it!!! Please help!!
Thanks for any help you can give.
I'm no expert but this sounds like my bout of thrush that I couldn't get rid of. My LO didn't have any signs either and my symptoms were the same as yours. I ended up taking a prescription Fluconasin (?) and a ton of probiotics (like 10 a day) and it helped a ton! I also eliminated wheat, dairy and sugar including fruit for a week or so. I still had a little pain because my guy is still working on his latch (he has a really tight little mouth) but it's more of a tender feeling and it's totally tolerable compared to all the pain we've had. I nearly gave up breastfeeding after all the issues we've had, mastitis, thrush, bad latch, cracked nipples, you name it I've had it. My midwives considered raynauds for a bit too but thought we should try to treat thrush first. I feel your pain. I think if you feel like it's thrush go with your gut and treat it.
Good luck and don't give up!
Oh, Bree! I've been hanging out on this forum as well. I don't have any insight but ((hugs)). You are so amazing and so committed! Your LO is a lucky, lucky little person. :) Hang in there sister.
Thanks Maurine! Sorry you are having trouble too. I saw your post, but didn't know what that med was...what's it for? Sucks to struggle with something you think you should be so natural doesn't it?! Ugh.
I wanted to add that I also made a paste of probiotic capsule and breast milk to put on my nipples that treated my baby and my nipples I put it a few times a day. Good luck!
Just a couple of thoughts.
Your baby is only 4 weeks old. In the old days when my babies were born (around 30 years ago) it was common to stay in bed or at least not get dressed, for 6 weeks. We weren't given doctor's permission to drive until the 6 week check-up after a normal vaginal birth. Babies didn't go out in public for 6 weeks. They have very weak immune systems and need to stay home. In almost all traditional societies mothers and new babies are taken care of by others and aren't expected to do much of anything except lay around and breastfeed for weeks.
Women didn't used to have breastpumps. Pumps cause problems. They can cause nipple trauma, plugged ducts and mastitis. They aren't necessary, hands work. Manual expression is easy to learn. You don't want to massage and pump to "drain" your breasts to get "infection" out. Ouch! If you have mastitis all you need to do is go to bed and breastfeed. I breastfed 10 years of my life (total with all children), never had a pump and never had a case of mastitis that didn't respond to going to bed and breastfeeding. I have an immune deficiency disease and I should have had a lot of problems with mastitis and thrush. I'm not bragging, I am presenting a different philosophy.
You might try not wearing a bra at all. Sometimes damp cloth or the pressure on the nipple can cause sore nipples. I think you may have been doing so much to your breasts yourself that you have been hurting them. You can take pain medications, moms that have C-sections do it all the time. I wouldn't suggest putting anything on your nipples. Try to enjoy your babymoon with your baby rather than resent being stuck in bed.
It sounds like thrush to me. It is not uncommon for a woman to have thrush and the baby to have *no* signs. Check the jack newman website for treatment options. I hope things improve soon.
Also, recurrent mastitis is sometimes a sign that a person is doing to much and needs to slow down and rest more. So, if that is an option for you then I would suggest that also.
I think the biggest thing you need to keep in mind is that recurrent mastitis like this just isn't normal. You shouldn't have to be bedridden in order to not get mastitis, or every mama with more than one LO would be stricken with severe infections. I do think you need abx at this point (like I said in our ddc thread) and I also think taking something for the possible thrush will help too. When I had crazy thrush that NOTHING would kick (not GFSE, not gentian violet, nothing!!) I took diflucan. It was such a bad case of thrush that I had to take it for 4 weeks. FOUR. It was that out of control.
Thrush can be very hard to spot. If your nipples feel like razors, badly burned, or like they're on fire, to me that's thrush. Your DS might not have it. It's possible, even though they say to always treat both mom and baby, that you have it and he doesn't.
Hang in there, mama.