what a tit

Four weeks ago we went to stay with Mr TOPP’s mum. The first morning we were there I woke up with unbelievably achy legs. It felt like I had walked for miles and miles. This has almost never happened, so was worth a comment over breakfast. Little M was five weeks old, and we were still establishing our breastfeeding routine. Because Big M had been poorly the day before, a couple of feeds had had to be cut short. I thought this was the reason my boob was feeling bruised. Until I was getting into the shower and saw a bright red patch right where I felt sore.

I have read enough pregnancy/parenting books to know that this was a classic symptom of mastitis. It also explained the achy feeling, as flu like symptoms can also be associated with mastitis. I immediately phoned the doctors and got an appointment. I was given antibiotics and told to feed Little M as often as I could from that side, and to express after each feed to ensure any blockages were cleared. I was told that this was vital because if the infection was left to fester it could develop into an abscess which would need draining which would involve an incision. Yikes. I did as I was told for once and fortunately I was soon on the mend.

Two and a half weeks later I started to get achy legs and a bruised feeling on the same breast. I knew immediately what was wrong, but wasn’t able to get to my GP. I went to an NHS walk in centre instead and was pleased to be seen very quickly.

I wasn’t seen by a doctor but by a nurse who can prescribe. He asked me about my symptoms, so I told him about my previous bout and how the same symptoms had returned. He told me that I needed to feed twice from the good side, to every one feed from the bad side. The reason for this, he explained, is to give the infected side time to recover and to minimise the risk of the infection passing to my baby. When I pointed out that this was the EXACT opposite to the advice I had been given three weeks before (and also the advice on the NHS website), he told me he had been a midwife until ten years ago, had delivered over 100 babies, and this was always the way mastitis had been treated in his experience. He gave me a prescription but told me not to get the antibiotics for a couple of days to let the 2:1 feeding routine to have an affect.

I took the prescription and left, totally unhappy about what he had told me as it went against everything I had ever heard or read. When I got home I phoned my health visitor. When I told her what I had been told she practically choked on her tea. She told me to go with the original advice of feeding as often as I could and to get the antibiotics as soon as humanly possible.

I am lucky that I caught both bouts early. I knew what to look for, and I knew what the advice is (even if a medical professional didn’t – I will be taking that up with PALS). If I had left it and/or followed the dud advice, I could have ended up extremely poorly.

If you are breastfeeding, please please PLEASE read up on the symptoms. Mastitis can come on so quickly and can make you extremely ill. For more information go here.

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