This Is Mastitis

This is what mastitis looks like. Ouch. Really, really ouch. This UK mother shared this photo of her fire boob on Instagram to highlight the realities of mastitis, and that breastfeeding mothers do need more support.

This is mastitis. After hitting the 1 year breastfeeding mark last Sunday I felt compelled to share my story. Breastfeeding did NOT come easy for me. My milk came in after 5 days. I wasn’t aware that it could take that long, I didn’t even necessarily know what “milk coming in” meant. (Nobody ever taught me.) I was the only mother breastfeeding on my ward. One women did try to breastfeed, but switched to formula after 12 hours because she “had no milk” (nobody taught her either.) While the other babies slept with full bellies, my son screamed and cried attached to my breast through the night. (What was cluster feeding? Nobody told me) When I got home, problems started to arise-my nipple literally cracked in half. I have never felt such pain, I dreaded every feed, but persisted with tears in my eyes until I was healed. (Nobody taught me that breastfeeding could be painful, nobody taught me what a good latch looked like) When feeding my son out in public I would either go to the bathroom or pump at home and feed him with a bottle. Because I felt embarrassed and as though I would make others uncomfortable. This resulted in clogged ducts and engorgement. (I feed freely in public now, and have done for a long time. Fuck this backwards society!) Then came mastitis. I remember waking up at 3am shivering, putting on my dressing gown and extra blankets and trying to feed my son. The pain. It was excruciating. I was shaking and sweating but freezing to my bones. At 5 am I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I needed to go to the hospital. We got my stepdad, a doctor, he took my temperature and said it was slightly high, but to take a paracetamol and try and sleep. 7am comes, I’ve had no sleep, and now I’m vomiting, he takes my temp again. 40 c. I had developed sepsis overnight. This was because I was not able to recognise the more subtle signs of mastitis (as I had seen no redness that day) I was rushed to resus, given morphine, anti sickness and the strongest antibiotics they could give, and separated from my baby for two nights. I was Heartbroken. Continued in comments…

A post shared by MamaClog (@mamaclog) on

Mastitis is inflammation in the breast that can lead to serious infection. You feel like you’ve got the flu – achey and feverish in the whole body (read more about it HERE). And then there’s the pain.

Mother Remi Peers, aka MamaClog on Instagram, shared this tender photo of herself in the throes of a bout of mastitis-turned-sepsis, early in her breastfeeding journey. It has sparked discussion about the possible struggles of breastfeeding and need for more support for new mothers. Celebrating one year of breastfeeding is what sparked the post, and something well worth celebrating.

She shares that breastfeeding did not come easily for her,¬†from waiting almost a week for her milk to come in (“I didn’t even necessarily know what “milk coming in” meant”), to latching issues (“When I got home, problems started to arise-my nipple literally cracked in half”) and even hesitation to feed in public (“I would either go to the bathroom or pump at home and feed him with a bottle. Because I felt embarrassed and as though I would make others uncomfortable”).

While some mothers (hopefully most of us here in NZ and Australia) do receive the help and support they need to breastfeed, this is not the case everywhere.

“I was the only mother breastfeeding on my ward. One women did try to breastfeed, but switched to formula after 12 hours because she “had no milk” (nobody taught her either.) While the other babies slept with full bellies, my son screamed and cried attached to my breast through the night. (What was cluster feeding? Nobody told me).”

“When I got home, problems started to arise-my nipple literally cracked in half. I have never felt such pain, I dreaded every feed, but persisted with tears in my eyes until I was healed. (Nobody taught me that breastfeeding could be painful, nobody taught me what a good latch looked like).
When feeding my son out in public I would either go to the bathroom or pump at home and feed him with a bottle. Because I felt embarrassed and as though I would make others uncomfortable. This resulted in clogged ducts and engorgement. (I feed freely in public now, and have done for a long time. Fuck this backwards society!)
Then came mastitis.”

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