It is horrible. There is no denying it.
I woke up feeling fine. My left breast was feeling sore, as if there was a hard bit in one area. As the day wore on however I began to feel ill. I knew that flu like symptoms could mean mastitis. This was something I had been dreading and I was being careful to avoid.
Earlier that day I put on a new nursing bra I had received. It was nice to have finally found a pretty nursing bra. It turns out this bra was a little too tight however and it caused a blocked milk duct. Great.
I took two paracetamol and thought I was starting to feel better. As soon as it wore of though I started feeling worse than before. Temperature soaring to 39.4.c, aching everywhere and feeling generally unwell. My breast had also gotten very red in the patch where it was sore. It was also hot to the touch. I knew it was too late to fix it myself but I was also too ill to sit in the walk in centre for four hours waiting to be seen.
That night was horrible. I couldn’t hold my baby as it was too painful, I awoke every hour or so, one minute I was freezing cold and the next I was drowning in sweat, I was dying of thirst but couldn’t walk to get water and I had to crawl to the bathroom to throw up on three separate occasions. The next day I was starting to feel a bit better. I made sure I was always dosed up on paracetamol or ibuprofen which helped a lot. This kept my temperature down and helped with the aches and other symptoms. I then spent the day breastfeeding and pumping after every feed. At one point I spent two hours straight just non-stop pumping. That night was a little bit better but the soreness was not getting any better.
The following day I decided it was time to go to my GP. I ended up getting antibiotics. This quickly helped relieve the area and it wasn’t long until I was feeling better.
It is important that you go see a doctor within 24-48 hours if symptoms have not improved. If it goes untreated you may develop an abscess which will require hospital treatment.
Your milk may appear to become ‘stringy’, this is normal. It looks gross but it is safe for babies. You may not even notice it. If you express milk then you can sieve it to get rid of it but your baby will not notice this. Your milk may taste saltier, your baby may notice this and not like it but it is important to continue feeding and pumping! Your nipples may get sore with all the extra feeds and pump sessions but it important to continue as this is the best way to unblock. Dangle feeding or pumping is the best position to be in as it works with gravity. I’m not sure about other people but I felt the moment when the duct became unblocked. Such a relief. My milk supply lessened afterwards and after each time I got a blocked duct afterwards. I used to produce 25oz on average and now I produce 14-16oz on average a day.
It is possible to avoid antibiotics if you manage to get notice the signs quickly and get it sorted fast, I managed to do this twice after. But do go to your GP if you show no signs of improvement.