Mastitis is one of those infections that you just don’t want to have as a breastfeeding mother. I’m pleading with you new moms: DON’T GET IT! IT SUCKS… (literally). Preventing mastitis can be as simple as general breastfeeding “maintenance” staples; nursing (or pumping) regularly, ensuring proper latch, proper bras, checking for clogged ducts… the basics really. But keeping up with that gets harder to remember with each new member of the family! I got swooped with my first case of it with my 3rd born. Below I am sharing a simple, budget-friendly methods to help take care of that mastitis quickly, effectively, and without the use of allopathic antibiotics. It worked for me!
- Prevent. The best way to take care of mastitis is to NOT mess with it in the first place. Upon entering breastfeeding world, take advantage of the aid of a lactation consultant. Listen and do what she says! Wear proper bras for good breastmilk flow, feed/pump regularly, ensure proper latching. These basics (and many others that a lactation specialist can guide you through) help prevent mastitis altogether.
- Nurse. Nurse often! Do not restrict your baby’s sucking time at all. That little nugget is your best bet out of clogged corner of boob world. This is a crucial part of healing clogged ducts and recovering from mastitis the simple way. Point the baby’s chin towards the red and clogged area of your breast. This will help draw out the clog.
- Rest. Let the housework go to sh*& if you must. You WILL get better faster. Scale back to the survival needs for yourself and the members of your household. These are the moments when perfectionists need to surrender their ability to do it all, and rest. I believe the true “Super Moms” are the ones who know how and when to do this.
- No Bra. This is simple. Don’t wear a bra. At all. Then ensure that the bras you wear often do not encourage clogged ducts! A lactation consultant can help you with this. In a nutshell, you want the bra to allow full “disclosure” when you whip your girls out to nurse, and reserve those breast-perfecting-magically-lifting underwire bras for special night outs, work, etc….
- Eat Clean. Blending and/or juicing your meals might be the only thing you feel up for consuming during miserable mastitis time. (At times you may lose your appetite, at which point you want to hydrate hydrate hydrate). Pineapple juices and smoothies are among the best food-medicines! Other beneficial fresh foods include grapes, bananas & dates (to keep up milk supply but allow easy digestion), green juices and nourishing soups like some Get Well Soon Soup. More on breast milk flow and nutrition in an upcoming blog post!
- Vegetable “Bra.” So this is technically a poultice, but it’s kind of like a bra too…. Grate or thinly slice a raw white potato and place on infected area. Then create a “bra” with a large raw green cabbage leaf. Let it sit until the cooling effect wear off, then repeat as desired. This works in relieving the burning pain as well as fighting the infection. Is cabbage an old wives’ tale? It has served me well in my 5 years’ experience in breastfeeding, and I’m sure the leaves must be shaped the way they are for a good reason! Cabbage is also known to help dry up breast milk supply, so proceed with caution! The potato does a lot of work, so you can always just use the potato poultice over the red clogged area if you are concerned.
- Hydrate. Drink water like your life depends on it. Because basically, it does. And so does you baby’s during the mastitis mess. Water will help drain that clogged duct out, encourage breast milk production, and help your body flush out the infection through the great lymphatic system (your pee and your sweat!). I highly recommend distilled water. Continue drinking water after your symptoms go away, as your milk supply will be re-establishing during this phase.
- Garlic. Garlic contains BOTH antibacterial properties AND prebiotic components! Garlic is known as Mother Nature’s antibiotic remedy for a good reason: IT WORKS, AND IT WORKS FAST. I prefer to take mine in capsule form when dealing with sickness (especially acute!).
- Apple cider vinegar. Some health gurus debate the efficacy of this remedy. I do not use it daily for a few reasons I won’t go into in this post, but I have experienced its benefits in times of illness, including mastitis. Roughly 1-2 tablespoons per quart of water intake should suffice; more if you can handle it! Just as you are drinking water around the clock, take the apple cider vinegar along with it. Kick it up a notch with fire cider! I used fire cider with my mastitis battle as I am lucky to live oh-so-close to a talented herbal goddess of a friend who sells some from her home-based herbal shop. Fire cider is raw apple cider vinegar infused with infection-fighting, health-promoting ingredients such as garlic, oregano, rosemary, etc….
One thing I love about this list is the convenient accessibility of the ingredients: something an exhausted, sore and feverish breastfeeding mom needs! I am thrilled to write more about breast-flow nutrition and herbal care for nursing mamas. If you’ve had mastitis and treated it naturally I’d love to hear about it; comment below!