The last time I posted, I had finally gotten one good night’s rest. Well, later that night I developed mastitis. I had all of the classic symptoms. First, I noticed one area of my breast still hurt despite finishing feeding and the breast having been emptied. I tried massaging the area to see if it would help. I’d also been dealing with engorgement, so I iced it briefly. I then noticed it getting a little red, but wasn’t sure if it was from all of the manipulation.
Shortly thereafter, I started to feel like I was coming down with the flu. At that point, I knew I must be either getting sick or developing mastitis. The area of my breast was still red, and now it felt warm. I spoke to an advice nurse by phone, who agreed the symptoms were consistent with mastitis and they had the antibiotic prescription ordered.
My first reaction was [expletive]! Then I thought- I finally get a good night’s rest and this is what I get?! The things we breastfeeding women have to deal with! I’m quite sure that not letting my breasts empty overnight contributed to the infection. That side had been getting engorged already, so going 8 hours without breastfeeding or pumping was a bad idea. But the sleep was so great!
Next thought was the antibiotics- I didn’t want to mess around and develop an abscess. Definitely don’t want a collection of pus in my breast. I knew that antibiotics were indicated for this infection, and that the dicloxacillin (a standard treatment for mastitis) was safe to take while breastfeeding. But I couldn’t help but worry about how it would affect the normal flora in my body, and if that might affect WZW. Guess I’ll need to take probiotics and eat fermented foods afterwards. The levels of the medication being excreted in my breast milk should be minimal.
And then I started to feel a little guilty about all the carbs I’ve been eating. In my haze of sleep deprivation, I definitely haven’t been staying strict Paleo, and of course I wondered if some of that sugar had made me more prone to infection. I tried to eat better the next day, and also had the fortune of my husband being home and able to cook. But when it comes down to it, I’m too tired to go back to eating strictly Paleo just yet. I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Thankfully, the mastitis has improved upon starting the antibiotics. I always knew that medications that are to be taken 4 times daily can be difficult to adhere to, and I’m aware of that as a prescriber. But with some conditions like mastitis, I want to go with the standard treatment that I know will generally treat the condition and is also safe with breastfeeding. At least since WZW gets up every few hours or so to feed, it makes it easier to take the antibiotic regularly.
One thing that I didn’t realize about the medication until I got it is that the instructions say to take it with an empty stomach. It says to take one hour before a meal or 2-3 hours after a meal. Now, taking a medication 4 times a day (approximately every 6 hours) and on top of that avoiding mealtimes? That is next to impossible to do it consistently for 10 days. I’m sure it will still work fine to try to adhere to it as best as possible. But to follow the instructions precisely is a tall order, even for someone as anal as me.
I realize there are worse complications that can occur postpartum, and in the scheme of things this ended up not being a big deal. And let me tell you, that grand night of sleep was still worth it! But going through all of this does give me a new appreciation for how much work and unfortunately pain (literally and figuratively) goes into breastfeeding.