Despite my high pain threshold, natural childbirth is at the top of my list for pain. As much as I loved the experience of natural childbirth, I'm very happy, it's done and over with.
Following birth, another kind of pain crept up on me—mastitis from breastfeeding—and I didn't recognize the symptoms. However, I was able to come up with a natural treatment for mastitis, one that quickly provided relief and made this mama very happy.
What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is a condition found in breastfeeding mothers causing the breast to be inflamed—and if left untreated—can result in an infected breast. Mastitis is the result of invading germs, usually by a common bacteria like Staphylococcus. However, in the case of mastitis, the bacteria is overgrown. The bacteria can pass from the baby’s mouth, into a milk duct through cracks or openings found on your nipples. The infection then moves into the fatty tissue of the breast and creates inflammation and swelling. This inflammation and swelling creates pressure on the milk ducts and can create blockages. The result is redness, tenderness, pain, and lumps in the infected breast.
Stress as well as not taking care of yourself from lack of sleep, not eating properly, dehydration or trying to do too much can result in your body not being able to fight off the infection.
The Symptoms of Mastitis
- hard lumps in your breast
- the affected area of the breast hurts when touched
- the affected area feels hot when touched
- local redness
- general feeling of soreness or aching in your breast
- swelling that isn’t due to your breast being full
Flu-like Symptoms of Mastitis
- general aches and pains
- a headache
- a fever
Natural Treatment of Mastitis
Try these seven natural remedies for mastitis.
- Rest. Rest. Rest. I can't stress this enough. You need to rest and by rest, I mean sleep without anyone bothering you. Rest by letting the dishes and laundry go for a few days. Your body needs to heal and the only way this is going to happen is to rest. I know for some this might be a challenge. It was for me because I am always on the go, but it's how I got into this mastitis pickle in the first place. This was my body telling me to slow down!
- Nurse often. Although it may be extremely painful, you need to let your baby feed frequently to keep your milk supply flowing and avoid further blockage.
- Pump. If your little one doesn’t empty the inflamed breast during each feeding, finish the job yourself with a breast pump. I did try this, and I was able to get about 1/2-1 oz extra of milk.
- Massage your breasts. Take a hot shower or bath often throughout the day and massage your breast to help release the pressure. I am not going to lie this is going to hurt, but it's so worth it. I was still able to express some milk while massaging, indicating I was not totally blocked.
- Stuff your bra with grated onions or potatoes. Yes, you read that right. The onions and potatoes will help to reduce inflammation and heal the infection. They will draw the toxins out of your boobs. You should do this 4 times a day. Each time simply leave the onion or potato in your bra for 5 minutes. Do this a total of 3 times.
- Take Echinacea and Yarrow. I went to my naturopath and she made a concoction of Echinacea and Yarrow to take 4 times a day. This combination is an immunity booster to help fight the infection.
- Wet sock treatment. This treatment will increase circulation and blood flow, which in turn moves blood through all your systems, including the lymph system, which increases the immune response to everything else happening in the body at the same time.
Mastitis is most definitely not a condition to mess around with. I was lucky I caught it early and was able to kick it before I needed antibiotics. Listen to your body. Follow its cues and do what you feel is right. If your fever and chills persist, and your mastitis is not starting to improve, I would highly recommend seeing a naturopath or doctor. You do not want it to develop into a breast abscess.
Abstract: Ten of the most known and used commercial essential oils (Cinnamomum zeylanicum L., Citrus bergamia Risso, Eucalyptus globulus Labill., Foeniculum vulgare Mill., Origanum majorana L., Origanum vulgare L., Rosmarinus officinalis L., Satureja montana L., Thymus vulgaris L. ct. carvacrol, Thymus vulgaris L. ct. thymol) were tested against six bacteria strains Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus chromogenes, Staphylococcus sciuri, Staphylococcus warneri, Staphylococcus xylosus and Escherichia coli, responsible for mastitis in animals. The best results were achieved by S. montana, T. vulgaris ct. thymol and O. vulgare. Two binary mixtures of essential oils (EOs) were prepared of S. montana and T. vulgaris ct. thymol (ST) and of S. montana and O. vulgare (SO). The ST mixture exhibited the best inhibitory activity against all the tested bacterial strains. Two artificial mixtures of carvacrol/thymol (AB) and carvacrol/thymol/p-cymene (CD) were prepared and tested against all of the bacterial strains used. The results exhibited a general reduction of the inhibitory activity of mixture AB, although not reaching the inhibition of the ST and SO mixtures. However the mixture CD presented an apparent strong inhibition against S. aureus and S. sciuri. The EO mixtures and the mixture CD represent promising phytotherapic approaches against bacteria strains responsible for environmental mastitis. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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