It’s World Breastfeeding Week! I am passionate about breastfeeding and supporting mothers to breastfeed. I breastfed all three of my children, for over ten years in total, and over that time I dealt with under supply, expressing when returning to (nearly) full time work, and mastitis.
Today I want to talk about mastitis as this can be a terrible infection, and the knowledge to treat this with homeopathy and supplements can avoid the need for antibiotics and hospitalisation.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast, which often starts with a blocked duct, and can become a bacterial infection. A blocked duct has symptoms of a hard or tender lump on one breast, there can be a reduced flow of milk and the area may be red or warm. Mastitis is usually more severe, with pain, swelling, warmth and redness, and sometimes fever and chills.
Firstly, let’s talk about the metaphysical reasons behind mastitis. Louise Hay states that one of the causes of breast problems is putting everyone else first, and to correct this the new thought pattern is that “I am important. I count. I now care for and nourish myself with love and with joy.” Mastitis is more common in the early months when Mums are trying to figure out how to look after this new person, sometimes balancing this with the demands of other children, and often putting looking after themselves at the end of a long list of things to do.
Before we look at homeopathy, here are some of the other things you can do.
Check baby’s latch – a shallow latch can mean the breast isn’t fully drained. Interrupted feedings or long periods in between feeds can also be an issue. If you have a blocked duct or mastitis keep feeding baby and feed regularly to drain the breast.
If you notice a blocked duct, start with massaging the area while you are feeding. Keep breastfeeding, with gentle pressure on the area. A hot shower or heat before feeding will also help with opening the blocked ducts. Make sure you are not wearing clothing or bras that are restrictive.
For any infection, increasing vitamin C is important, either sodium Ascorbate up to bowel tolerance, or lyposomal vitamin C. It is important to note that vitamin C will go through the breastmilk, so watch not just for your own bowel tolerance, but any changes for baby’s bowel motions or gut.
Raw garlic is a natural antiviral, antibacterial and anti fungal. While you can get this in capsule form, the deodorised garlic is less effective than the unadulterated raw garlic. Take a raw garlic clove, sliced into small pieces four time daily.
It is also important that you are staying well hydrated, to ensure adequate milk supply.
A potato poultice can reduce pain, blockages and inflammation. Grate raw, white potato and apply to the inflamed breast. Remove after 20 minutes or so when it has warmed up. This can be repeated up to three times daily.
Cabbage leaves can help with engorgement and pain, place a cold cabbage leaf to the affected breast and leave on for 20 minutes. Do not do this more than three times a day because cabbage can reduce milk supply.
Now let’s talk about homeopathic remedies for mastitis. If you are new to Homeopathy, the key thing is to match the symptoms that you have to the symptoms of the remedy. Here are some of the most common remedies and their indications:
Belladonna is a remedy for early stages of mastitis with redness, heat, swelling and throbbing pain. The breast may feel heavy, and red streaks may radiate from the areola. Belladonna often affects the right breast, and they are worse lying down. They may have a high fever, a red, hot face, and be thirstless.
Phytolacca has painful swelling of the breast with chills and fever. The breast can be hard with painful lumps, and the pain radiates from the breast in every direction – it can be so painful they clench their teeth. Phytolacca is also indicated if the breast abscesses, and milk is thick and hangs from the nipple in strings. Phytolacca is also more likely to affect the right breast.
Bryonia has hard, stony breasts, and want pressure on them like a firm fitting bra or will hold them tightly. They are hot and painful but not as red as Belladonna. They are worse for any movement, and may be constipated. Bryonia is very dry, with a dry mouth and lips, and thirsty for cold drinks that they will drink in one sitting.
How to take the remedy: for 30c potency take one dose every 15 minutes for up to six doses or until you have improvement. If symptoms return the repeat the remedy. If you have no change or relief then stop using the remedy, it is not the right one. 200c is a stronger potency and needs less frequent dosing. If you are not better with ing 24-48 hours make an appointment with a Homeopath.
If you are getting recurrent mastitis or blocked ducts, it is time to ask for help. It may be worth seeing a practitioner for some body work- whether Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Bowen Therapy or something else to check for physical blockages. A Homeopath can help with the whole picture and support you not just for the current acute infection but also the recurring problem.