Remember that nursing strike Rhys went on? Well, Ms. Know-It-All, CLE over here managed to give herself Mastitis. Go ahead and snicker, I deserve it!
What went wrong:
* I was ill with the stomach flu. I nursed as little as possible and didn't pump to make up the difference.
* Rhys became ill with the stomach flu. I nursed as much as he'd allow me, which wasn't much, and pumped NOT AT ALL because I was too busy looking after my sick baby bear.
* I spent much of the time we were ill wearing a nursing bra with an overly snug band.
So, naturally, on day 3 of our collective illness I awoke with hellfire raging in my left breast. Other symptoms I noticed were mild fever, chills, a red wedge-shaped mark on the underside of my left breast (corresponding to the duct that was plugged), and extreme pain (especially at let-down).
Treatment for mastitis and plugged ducts involves:
* Moist heat. In the form of hot compresses, hot baths or hot showers.
* Massage. Which can be combined with moist heat for a greater effect.
* Emptying the breast. Through whatever means necessary. Nursing is the most effective way to empty the breast and, as such, is the preferred method. However, if baby isn't nursing, mom will need to pump with an efficient pump as often as possible.
* Pressure on the inflamed duct while nursing or pumping. If you can pinpoint the location of the blockage, pressure during nursing will help shift it.
* Ibuprofen. To reduce swelling, inflammation and pain.
* Antibiotics. Often necessary. Symptoms as described above merit a visit to your OB to determine whether you need them.
I'm happy to report that after two days of aggressive heat, massage and pumping, the mastitis passed (without antibiotics even!) Lessons learned: milk must be removed by whatever means necessary, bras must fit flawlessly and treatment for issues must be aggressive and immediate.