A mother needs her son as much as her son needs his mother.
Why do I need Everitt just as badly he needs me? Breastfeeding takes two to tango. Without him, engorgement and pain occur. Without me, he won’t get the nutrition necessary for growth and development. Many women do not want to discuss their struggles with breastfeeding because of various reasons. Maybe they are worried about being ostracized by society; maybe because showing a side of yourself to the world that isn’t’ “perfect” is scary. Being vulnerable means you might not have it all together and when you think about it, who really does have it all together…no one. In my blog, I try to be very transparent about my joys and difficulties and wanted to share my last week’s struggle in hopes it can encourage other moms.
My struggle with breastfeeding is something most all moms can relate too…clogged ducts and mastitis. Unfortunately, mothers know too well what pain and agony this causes. A few weeks ago, I had felt a clogged duct coming on and was able to clear that out quickly. It was caused by wearing my pre-pregnancy sports bras. I had begun walking with my son and Emma; once we got back from our walk, it was time to feed and I would pull up the side of the sports bra that I was going to feed on. Quickly, I learned that this was causing milk flow restriction and was able to fix the problem immediately. The clogged duct cleared up and I was pain free.
This time, I had no warning leading up to this terrible experience. For the last week, I have been dealing with mastitis. Mastitis is basically a clogged breast duct that gets infected. The infected duct is usually red, hot to the touch and very painful. Last Saturday night the mastitis came on like a freight train between two feedings. One moment I felt great and was feeding smoothly and the next, I was crying through the feeding because of the pain. I didn’t know what to do or why it happened. Breastfeeding, massaging the painful area, taking hot baths and showers and drinking lots of water was my focus. Once I got the left side resolved, my right side was clogged.
It seemed as though I went from healthy to extreme pain in minutes. As you can imagine, I was completely disheartened. Just as the left side was getting better, the right side was impacted. I was even more disheartened because I had planned on going on my first run Sunday morning since giving birth. Gravity itself made me hurt and the last thing I wanted to do was bounce around so running was out of the question.
Tuesday night was when I developed mastitis on my right side. On Wednesday, I remember praying, “God I know you can take this away. Why don’t you? Why won’t you give me some relief? I want to focus on my son and being in his life rather than taking baths and using a heating pad to get better.” It was so frustrating to be going through something so painful when knowing my Creator could take it away so easily. I remember praying, “Lord if you take it away I will write my testimony and give you the glory.” Of course it was my hope saying that, the milk would immediately disappear and everything would be amazing again. Unfortunately, immediate relief did not happen. Much to my frustration, Thursday morning I woke up with very tender areas and a broken spirit. One of the aids for mastitis is rest. So after Everitt’s first feeding of the day, I went back to bed rather than getting up and starting my day. When I woke up for his next feeding, there was a dramatic difference! I couldn’t believe it; it was like night and day! At first my mind began trying to figure out what helped and made such a dramatic difference. Was it the probiotic, drinking more water, taking a hot bath, the heating pad, sunflower lecithin…..then, I thought to myself “to God be the glory” and praised Him for relief. There can be no other explanation for such a fast change in my situation. I was about ready to give up hope of ever feeling better. In my situation, I am going to give God the glory for my recovery as I have no other explanation.
Getting mastitis again terrifies me. It is excruciating and the only way through it is to do the very thing that causes more pain, breastfeed. Looking back, the cause for my mastitis could have been dehydration, sleep deprivation or stress but I really don’t know for sure. I do know that it is my prayer that I never go through that again and that mothers out there suffering from this horrible situation can know they are not alone. If you are suffering, get help and support. Some things that provided relief for me was the heating pad, drinking lots of water (about a gallon), taking hot showers/baths and prayer. Hopefully this provides some encouragement for mothers who are currently struggling and in pain.