Mastitis and Probiotics

A customer recently sent us this amazing story, and gave us permission to share it with you on our website.

“I am the proud mum of a nearly 6 month old beautiful girl. She was breast fed solely until 3 weeks ago, when I started back at work and my milk supply diminished so rapidly I couldn’t satisfy her, despite expressing at normal feed times!

Anyway, my introduction to breastfeeding in the hospital was lovely. My daughter was born after a very short easy labour and latched on within minutes. All was fine until 2 days later when my milk came in. To say I was engorged is an understatement! There was no way we could get her latched on and as fast as we tried to express, I filled back up. This lasted around a week instead of the usual 2 or so days I’d read about. Of course, my baby was hungry and didn’t want to wait until I’d sorted myself out, so learnt to latch on – badly. I ended up with bleeding sores on my nipples, but I was determined to breastfeed, so was putting up with it and not using a bottle at all. Baby wouldn’t feed if I used a nipple shield or take from a bottle, so Nipple Cream became my new best friend – and it was wonderful!

Week 3, I was still raw and bleeding and developed my first case of mastitis. It came on over about 24 hours. I still had an oversupply of milk, so was trying not to express too much after a feed. And I didn’t know that not emptying the breast was one of the leading causes of mastitis. This required a dose of antibiotics. Both Baby and I had very upset tummies. After 5 days on antibiotics, we were both very relieved to finish the course. However, I was still very raw and bleeding due to latching issues.

It was the second to last day of care under my midwife and I felt the familiar heat start again, this time on the other side. Another dose of antibiotics were prescribed. This time, I mentioned to the pharmacist about the upset tummy and he was wonderful!

He suggested I take probiotic tablets once a day and also eat probiotic yoghurt and try a probiotic drink. This worked a treat and aside from the first day, Baby had no noticeable effects from the antibiotics. I would start the day with cereal and yoghurt, have a drink in the arvo and the tablets at night (to see me through the dose of antibiotics I took during the night feed).

Unfortunately, the antibiotics were not prescribed for long enough (only another 5 days), and within 2 days of finishing them, the mastitis came back – with tenfold worse symptoms.

I then went to my GP (who referred me to my local Plunket family centre who were wonderful) and gave me a 4 week course of antibiotics! The Family Centre also arranged for a lactation consultant to visit me at home. By this time, Lilyanne was 8 weeks old and I was really starting to question my stamina and strength to keep breastfeeding. After 1 week of the latest course of antibiotics, my technique has been corrected and I had finally started to heal!

The lessons learned from this story are useful for others,

  • Even if you do think you have an oversupply of milk, it is important at least once a day to empty the breasts,
  • If mastitis reoccurs, the second dose of antibiotics should be for a minimum of 10 days to ensure the bacteria are completely gone,
  • If you do need to take antibiotics and are breastfeeding, using probiotics can greatly reduce negative impacts to mum and bubs,
  • The earlier you can see a lactation consultant when you are having problems, the quicker you can resolve any feeding techniques and start to enjoy feeding your new baby.
  • Nipple Cream provided a great deal of relief for painful nipples (as did finding bra’s that didn’t have a seam that crossed the nipples)

I am so pleased I persevered with breastfeeding as it has undoubtedly been the most precious one-on-one time with my little one.

This has become even more evident now I am back at work!

I realise this is a bit of a novel and I hope this isn’t too much, but just wanted to share some real positives I found when experiencing the challenges that can happen with breastfeeding.”

I really appreciate that this mother shared her story with us, she went through a huge ordeal and really put all her efforts into breastfeeding.  I love her statements at the end that say how happy she was that she persevered.