Mastitis-stricken mum still breastfeeds toddler against doctor's advice
The mum insists that "breast is best".
Among the many issues breastfeeding mums may face — like sore nipples and engorgement — perhaps mastitis. is the worst. It’s a medical condition that causes severe inflammation of the breast tissue and ducts, and is very painful. So, when one mum who developed mastitis was under pressure to stop breastfeeding by her doctors, why did she not listen?
Summer Dawn Pointer, a 22-year-old US mum who developed mastitis, continued breastfeeding her child, despite the medical pressure to stop breastfeeding.
The young mum delivered her only son, Knox, in May 2017. However five weeks later, Summer realised that her right breast developed a red bump.
After consulting doctors, she was given a diagnosis of mastitis. One doctor advised her to discontinue breastfeeding her son. However, she persisted in nursing him in spite of being warned, and is determined to so until the now 18-month-old Knox weans himself.
In her own words, Summer wants “to breastfeed Knox until he’s at least two-years-old or older”, should the toddler choose to keep on breastfeeding. She says she will only end it when “he is ready to self-wean.”
Doctors prescribed Summer antibiotics when she initially got a diagnosis of mastitis.
However, the drugs didn’t work. Then, the young mum was referred to a breast surgeon, who aimed to get rid of the painful abscess on her breast.
The breast surgeon advised Summer to stop breastfeeding, “but I cried and cried and told her we had to try something else besides that,’ she says.
Hearing this, the breast surgeon prescribed her the most powerful antibiotics she could buy. The mum even got two prescriptions of the antibiotics “before the surgeon finally just lanced out the abscess”.
In the end, her treatment impacted the amount of breastmilk she made, and she was advised to not breastfeed him since it might worsen the infection.
However, even with health risks and the medical pressure to stop breastfeeding, Summer says she still breastfeeds Knox between eight to 10 times daily.
The mum nurses him “anywhere, anytime”. At first, she became uneasy breastfeeding her son as it wasn’t easy latching him, “but after time it became easier”.
She says many people have given her weird looks.
The same happened with her boyfriend’s family. At first, they commented that Knox was “too old”. However, they don’t comment anymore after being informed that Summer wasn’t going to stop breastfeeding up till Knox was ready.
Thankfully, Summer says that “my oldest sister and mom, Connie, are very supportive as well as my boyfriend.”
The young mum also uploads breastfeeding posts on Instagram. So far, her posts have largely garnered positive comments from followers, with a few attacking her when she insists that ‘breast is best’.
“Breast milk is better for him than cow’s milk and if other moms aren’t going to help wean him then it’s none of their business,” said Summer.
The young mum says she also wants to promote breastfeeding to more mums – particularly new ones – and to “stick to it”.
Mastitis is an infection of the breastfeeding mother’s breast tissue. It’s usually caused by bacteria entering the milk duct through a break or crack in the nipple. It can also occur if the plugged or blocked milk duct isn’t treated accordingly.
Normally, mastitis affects only one breast at a time but if a mum has had it before, she will likely have it again. This problem is most common in the first two to three weeks but can occur in any stage of lactation.
Mastitis is pretty obvious when it occurs. That’s because the affected breast/s not only looks very different, but also feels painful.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of mastitis:
- Hard, swollen breasts
- Warm, reddened and tender breasts
- Red streaks over the breast
- Fever and chills (of 38.5 degrees or higher)
- Fatigue and flu like body aches
- Gelatin-like or stringy breastmilk
- Milk may contain mucous pus or blood
- Milk tasting saltier from increased sodium
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pus coming out of the nipple
- Pain when breastfeeding
While mastitis is scary at first, mums shouldn’t worry. Mastitis is a very curable infection and will not affect the breast milk or the breast tissue. This infection can be treated by using:
- Antibiotics, which is the usual medication for mastitis and may last 10-14 days. Not only is it safe for the breastfeeding mummy and baby, but antibiotics can help kill the mastitis-causing bacteria and eliminate pus from inside the breast tissue. Remember to never self medicate, though! Antibiotics should be prescribed by a Doctor.
- Pain relievers, like ibuprofen or panadol, can relieve mastitis symptoms like fever, swelling and pain. Take fever medication if you have a fever. Just like antibiotics, it is important that you should only take medicines prescribed by the doctor.
- Surgical drainage. If the breasts continue to remain swollen, a doctor can make a small incision on the breast to manually drain the pus. This treatment is very effective and provides almost instant relief.
- Supportive measures, such as:
- a lot of bed rest, especially when they are experiencing fever and fatigue.
- Warm compress with breast massage helps get the swelling down while encouraging milk letdown.
- Drinking more fluids and getting adequate nutrition.
- Not working around the house and getting extra help instead.
Mums, we hope that this article about continuing to breastfeed despite pressure to stop breastfeeding has been helpful. Have any thoughts? Share them in the comments below!