Mastitis is inflammation of the ducts and breast tissue that can cause pain, flu like symptoms (shivers and aches), temperature. The breast can be hot and swollen, red, and painful. It can also be hardened, shiny and have red streaks. The symptoms of Mastitis can develop very fast.

It can be caused by a blocked milk duct (non infective mastitis), or bacterial infection (infective mastitis).

Conventional medical treatment for infective mastitis involves a course of antibiotics. (These are often unnecessarily given by doctors when the cause is a blocked duct too).

It is important at this time to keep breastfeeding, and often, as draining the milk from the breast can help with the symptoms, even more so if it is a blocked duct.

This can often be the last thing that mothers want to hear, as feeding can aggravate the pain, and can be excruciating.

Mastitis can be a major contributor to women stopping breastfeeding, and  they can’t be blamed, as it can be a great trial. Some determined women attempt to persevere at great pain and discomfort to themselves, as often stopping breastfeeding then comes with feelings of guilt and failure, self blame and thoughts of “I should have persevered”.

Here is nice anecdote from a patient with whom Homeopathic intervention managed to avoid this situation:

Cassandra 37, first child

When my baby was 10 weeks old I got mastitis. I had expressed milk for the first time that afternoon. Within a few hours I started to feel unwell, and an hour after this I had a temperature, shakes, and my breast was hot, red and swollen. Feeding was very painful. The next morning I started to get the same in my other breast.

I was really under the weather. I received antibiotics, which helped, but the moment I finished the course, the symptoms came back – straight away.

The second course of antibiotics seemed to do the same for a few days, but even before I was two thirds through, it came back.

At this point my doctor recommended a third course of really strong antibiotics.

I was getting desperate. I was really under the weather, in great pain, and had now been going through on and off over two weeks of pain. I was worried about the effect of these antibiotics, and what if they didn’t work either? but also having to stop feeding, which I didn’t want to do. I was ready to give up though.

Luckily Kylie stepped in at this moment. She talked with me over the telephone as I couldn’t cope with coming out, and dropped the medicine off.

By the end of that day, where I took a fair bit of it, I was much, much better. From the moment I started taking it, it was like everything became bearable. I was able to deal with feeding. It disappeared completely in the next day or so.

I continued to take a squirt a day for about a week afterwards and it never returned. I also realised that after this, I became a lot calmer, and much less emotional about everything, something I hadn’t even realised was happening before!”

Cassandra was able to successfully continue to breastfeed her child until weaning. I found it interesting to note that a few weeks after this happened, in a follow up conversation she mentioned that she felt like she was not producing as much milk as before, which concerned her a little. However, on questioning it was found that the baby was perfectly satisfied, not displaying any signs of not getting enough milk, and continuing to thrive and grow beautifully.

My analysis of this situation was that although Cassandra had mastitis, it was driven by a deeper  “nurture anxiety”.  By her strong desire to nurture and care for this baby,  she developed a whole range of symptoms which included emotional symptoms (perhaps driven from deep desire to do it properly and well, and anxiety as to her feelings of capacity ). These emotional symptoms contributed to increased breast milk production (a physical manifestation of her desire to nurture), and then the mastitis occurred – the very acute physical sign of this imbalance.

The wonderful thing about Homeopathy is that it has the ability to take into account not only the physical ailment, but the unique and individual symptoms at all levels – physical, emotional and mental.

Sure, the mastitis was caused by bacterial infection – it got better with antibiotics right? But it didn’t. It came back and back.

Homeopathy addressed all layers of the “disease” here, of which the bacterial infection and mastitis was but the final outcome. And yes, it did address the mastitis – and at least as effectively and quickly as antibiotics. But it also addressed underlying symptoms, which stopped the reoccurrence, and restored emotional and physical balance.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a range of good suggestions to help the breast drain or empty more easily, as well as a lot of other good advice on breastfeeding, mastitis and blocked ducts.