Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feeding Chapter 4: Mastitis

I guess the title says it all. We had a GREAT week. Baby Boy was eating more or less on a predictable schedule, latching on was taking less and less tries, and I was walking around the house while nursing to keep Baby Boy alert and drinking. I had re-embraced the nursing bra after walking around bra-less for the last few weeks. One day Baby Boy got a rash, runny nose and (TMI alert) green stool. I decided to check if it was a food allergy by eliminating several things from my diet. But no matter, at least he was feeding and I was walking on air. And then my throat started to hurt.

Within a few hours I had chills and a fever of 103. Consequently, I looked carefully and saw that my breast was inflamed, but this was no blocked duct, it was full-on mastitis. Murphy's law being what it is, this was on Sunday, the day before M's biggest exam of the semester. So I took tylenol and took care of Baby Boy, while shivering in bed. It was the WORST feeling I can describe: feeling helpless and trying to take care of a fussy baby on my own. (We now know his symptoms were most probably a virus, but using that bulb to suck out his snot at 3 am, while running a fever was unpleasant to say the least).

The following day we made it to the doctor and got the diagnosis. He said to stop breastfeeding immediately, pump to get out the infection, and gave me a cocktail of antibiotics. He offered some medicine to help me dry up my milk with the rational that I was likely to get re-infected, since the infection most likely came from Baby Boy's mouth. I was crushed and asked about expressing milk, to which I was told I could keep on giving Baby Boy breast milk only by pumping and using a bottle, starting after I finished the antibiotics.

The next 3 days were horrible. I was still not feeling well and frustrated at having to pump and dump. Baby Boy was upset because he couldn't comfort feed. And M was going at 90 miles an hour to take care of us while doing overtime in the school clinic. Meanwhile, we were both researching the medications I was taking and looking for a second opinion regarding continuing breastfeeding. M check medical references (some said ok, others said no) and asked a doctor friend for a second opinion resulting in a "probably better not but we don't know". I consulted Dr. Hale's book (Medications and Mother's Milk) resulting in a "probably ok but not sure". Then I emailed Dr. Jack Newman resulting in "definitely continue" (with the explanation that the tiny percentage of antibiotic that gets into the breastmilk is still better than formula). Finally we asked the pediatrician who said "probably ok". Plus the knowledge that antibiotics prescribed to children are of a much higher dose than what gets into the milk and those are considered safe. And that's what decided it for me- back to breastfeeding it was.

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