Ouch my boobs hurt: attack of the mastitis monster


The weather! Let me say it again, with more specificity…the weather in Vermont these past two weeks! Can I just get a collective, “Amen?” Even if you’re not religious, let’s just say it together, “Amen!” Springtime in Vermont might be the proverbial nectar and/or kool aid that makes you forget how long the winters are in Vermont. The only thing that could make a beautiful partly cloudy 75-degree day terrible…is getting sick. I had the pleasure of contracting mastitis last week, and let me tell you it was a doozy.

For those that don’t know, mastitis is an inflammation of the breast. In many cases, the breast is sore, swollen, red, and you get flu-like symptoms. Good times, eh?! Before I go any further, this is all probably too much information for many of you (I’m looking at you, Dad!), but it’s worth talking about briefly. We’re all mothers here, right (except for you, Dad!).

I have had recurring plugged milk-ducts the entire 7 months that I’ve nursed Ruby. I have no idea why. For awhile I thought it was due to my diet. If I ate really high fat foods, I would get a clogged duct. So I changed up my diet and really focused on eating healthy, “clean” foods. Foods high in unsaturated fats, nuts, berries, twigs, fruits and veggies are how I define “clean”.  I even started taking lecithin supplements.  If you’ve never had a clogged duct, it  feels like glass shards are being sucked thru your nipple when your child nurses. Often times the plugged duct is combined with a lovely little blister on your nipple called a “bleb.” My cousin (who is also nursing) and I have affectionately called the blebs, the “Justin Bliebs.” Mostly because we can’t stand Justin Bieber, and liken his music to that of a blister on the tip of a sore nipple. Sorry Bieber fans.  Anyway, last week I came down with yet another clogged duct. I thought nothing of it. I amped up my nursing schedule and pumped more often.

Wednesday morning around 3am I woke up without a child waking me up. Anyone who has children and is sleep deprived knows that you never wake up by yourself unless you’re sick. And sick I was, fever, chills, general malaise. I have read about this “malaise”, but I never really could understand it until I felt it. I was so out of sorts. I fell back asleep and at 7am, like any reasonable mother, I dragged my butt out of bed, made some coffee, and took Ruby to swim class. Big mistake!

For the next three days I was in bed and slept almost constantly. My husband had to come home from work to watch the two kids. You don’t get sick days when you’re a stay at home mom. Fortunately my husband has a very understanding employer who allowed him to work from home and cover for me. I’m sure not all single income families have this luxury. I started antibiotics at the suggestion of my doctor. I’m not one for taking antibiotics…I worry about putting “stuff” in my system. However the minute the doctor said that I might develop an abscess if the infections got worse, I made my husband march his cute tush down to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription.

I finally made it to the other side, just in time to enjoy the weekend. I’m finishing up my 10 days worth of antibiotics (taken every 6 hours), and am able to finally play with the kids again. There really is nothing worse than sitting in bed sick when the weather is beautiful outside. To make up for being laid up in bed for 3 days I went out to do yard work without any sunscreen on. Stupid stupid stupid. Kids, don’t try this at home.  Got myself a real sexy and classy tan.

woman, selfie, bad tan,


Anyway, I’m sure you’re looking for a “take away” from this post so I will tell you that kellymom.com is a wonderful resource for any breastfeeding related questions. I have repeatedly used this site over the last 7 months. The information is practical and informative, I highly recommend bookmarking this page.

As far as my personal tips for dealing with clogged ducts and/or mastitis: Use warm compresses before nursing. I know, it seems really unrealistic if you’re a busy mom, but make the time. Drink a lot of water, if you’re not already. Nurse often and in different positions. Yeah, I’m talking about Nurstastics i.e. gymnastics for nursing. Holding the baby at a different angle than your usual nursing position can help with the inflammation and clogged duct. I can’t say that lecithin supplements have actually worked but I hear they do. And finally, if you’re taking antibiotics I highly suggest you eat yogurt on a daily basis or take a probiotic supplement. Antibiotics kill all the good stuff in you, which then causes stuff like yeast to grow faster in your system. Those yeasty beasties can be a real pain for nursing moms and their babes. Thrush anyone?

Enough with the over sharing and unsolicited advice. Best of luck to you! Enjoy this wonderful weather. And if you do find yourself sick or having a feeling of general malaise, be easy on yourself.



  1. ouch, that sounds terrible..and i can relate since i’ve been there 2 times myself (once when activities during the day caused a delay in feeding and the other around the time i started to wean). i like to do things as natural as possible and i discovered that a potato can keep you from needing antibiotics. first, i do everything i can to unplug the duct. i pump and nurse exclusively from the affected breast, take a warm shower and let the water pressure do it’s thing while massaging the area and when nothing helps and i start feeling like i have the flu, i grate a potato and apply it to my breast. voila! within 24 hours it’s gone. do a google search for potato and mastitis and you’ll see how others are using the miracle potato with success too.

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