Posts Tagged ‘pain relief’

The Fourth Trimester: When Mastitis Strikes

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

When mastitis strikes

I encountered my first bout of mastitis when my fourth baby was
5 weeks old. I breastfed all four of my children over a total of six years, and I can summarize the experience in exactly one word: TERRIBLE!

I was in bed in near tears because my body was so sore and achy. I would alternate between having the chills and a very high fever causing me to sweat buckets. I felt absolutely miserable, but was also desperate to clear up the infection without the use of antibiotics.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue. It generally starts as a plugged milk duct that becomes infected. The effected breast will be red, swollen, painful, and inflamed.

How is Mastitis Treated?

The very best form of treatment is a preventative approach. For example, avoid restrictive bras or clothing, empty your breasts completely at each feeding and/or pumping session, and nurse and/or pump on a frequent basis to avoid engorgement. Additionally, keeping stress levels low (yes easier said than done) is important, as stress can be a trigger for mastitis.

Even when all preventative measures are employed, mastitis can creep up on you rather quickly. A clogged duct can turn into mastitis within hours. At the very first sign you might be experiencing a clogged duct, make sure you pay attention to your body. Apply lots of massage and heat to the area and nurse, nurse, nurse.

When mastitis strikes, a common course of treatment is a round of antibiotics. While this can be effective, some moms may opt to treat mastitis without the use of antibiotics. I preferred to avoid the use of antibiotics and employed the following holistic treatment and comfort measures:

  • Rest – this is essential! Try to let go of everything else and focus on resting your body. This is definitely a time to call upon your support system for help. When I had mastitis, my mother-in-law happened to be visiting and my husband was home from work. This allowed me the ability to stay in bed for almost two days straight while my body healed. As mothers it can be difficult for us to let go of all the responsibilities nagging at us, but to the greatest extent possible allow yourself to rest so your body can heal.
  • Massage – Massage effected area frequently. You can massage with coconut oil or even a bit of arnica gel/cream (just be sure to wipe any residual amount away before baby nurses). As much as possible keep breasts moving; even jiggle them to help your milk flow.
  • Nurse – Continue to nurse your baby frequently and in varied positions. You can even massage the affected area while baby is nursing to try to release the clogged duct. Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! Babies are extremely effective in getting milk to flow so keep your baby close and nurse often.
  • Heat – Applying heat to affected area can help reduce inflammation and soften the tissue. You can take hot showers or use hot compresses before each nursing session.
  • Fever reducer – You may want to take something to reduce fever. This chart shows risk factors of medications while breastfeeding. Both Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are considered safe while breastfeeding. Homeopathic options such as belladonna may be something you consider exploring as well.
  • Boost Immune System – Vitamin C is a highly effective immune system booster. Some health care providers recommend a therapeutic dosage of Vitamin C (3000-5000 mg/day) to combat mastitis. Echinacea, green tea, zinc, vitamin B, garlic, and ginger also help boost immunity. I drank several cups of this garlic ginger broth when I had mastitis.
  • Stay well hydrated – Drink lots of water, especially if you are sweating due to fever. Keep a water bottle next to you as a reminder to keep consuming water.
  • Castor Oil Packs – Another alternative treatment option is a caster oil pack. This article explains how to do a castor oil pack as well as the benefits of doing them.

While mastitis is very challenging to cope with and definitely feels like a huge bump in the breastfeeding journey, know that it generally only lasts about 24 to 48 hours. Often it is our body’s way of telling us to S-L-O-W down. So listen to your body. Pay attention to this its message. And above all take the very best care of yourself as possible. After all you are nourishing another little person with your wonderful milk.

Please note: As with any health issue or concern it is always best to contact your health care provider regarding course of treatment.

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer. 

The Benefits of Hazelwood Necklaces

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Much like the amber teething necklace, hazelwood is gaining popularity amongst caregivers looking for alternatives to medication for a variety of health concerns. Many believe that hazelwood necklaces have the potential to improve conditions which are caused by excess acidity in the body, including eczema, colic, arthritis, migraines, constipation, heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers and even teething pain, by helping to neutralize acid in the body.

In order for the hazelwood to create an alkaline environment it has to have direct contact with the skin. When the wood rests on the skin the hazelwood will naturally oxidize and reduce the overall acidity in the body over time. Since the necklaces “absorb” acidity until saturation, their lifespans vary depending on the person and their particular level of acidity.

To reap the benefits of the hazelwood, it should be worn against the skin for as long as possible during the day. The more hazelwood that comes into contact with the skin, the better the potential to relieve particular health concerns. It is not recommended that babies under the age of 3 wear necklaces while unsupervised or while sleeping  so to prolong wearing time you can double wrap the necklace around the ankle and keep it secure under a snug fitting sock to hold it in place next to the skin.

Unlike an amber necklace, hazelwood can be kept on in the shower since water helps keep the wood moist, allowing it to be more absorbable. However, water with chlorine can alter the lifespan and efficacy of the hazelwood and should always be taken off before swimming.

The best way to monitor the lifespan of your necklace is to keep an eye on your symptoms. If you begin to notice any of your symptoms returning, even slightly, you should consider a replacement. Also check the ends of the wood beads to see if the middle of the wood (not the outer bark) has started to darken, if it has, its ability to absorb acidity is diminished and its time to pick out a new one.

When choosing your necklace, focus on ones with fewer stone beads and more hazelwood since its benefits are increased depending on how much is touching the skin. To determine the right size, you should be able to slip two fingers between the necklace and the baby’s neck and the necklace should never be long enough to allow baby to bring it to the mouth.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby. Visit her blog and website at

Sunday Funday Giveaway: Baltic Amber Children’s Necklace

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Surely you have seen those adorable, earthy-looking, necklaces that many cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, and babywearing mamas use? Ever wonder what the scoop is on those? They are actually necklaces made from Baltic Amber.

What is Baltic Amber? It’s a fossilized tree resin that has a high concentration of succinic acid. Okay, well now you are probably wondering what is succinic acid? It’s a powerful anti-oxidant that can protect and heal our body. It helps restore energy, provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and maintain overall wellness.

Baltic Amber has shown to be effective in providing comfort to teething babies; although the necklace doesn’t actually go into baby’s mouth. Rather by wearing the necklace, the succinic acid gets absorbed into the skin through contact. Some parents are concerned about the safety of amber teething necklaces. While adult supervision while baby wears necklace is strongly recommended, the necklaces are designed with two key safety features:

  • The thread is knotted after each bead so if the strand should break, loose beads will not scatter everywhere
  • The clasp is designed and tested to release if excessive force is applied to the necklace.

Would you like to win a Baltic Amber Necklace for your little one? Enter this week’s giveaway below! Winner will be announced on Sunday, November 18. Winner will be notified via email and is asked to respond within 48 hours to claim their prize.

Good luck mamas!




Sunday Funday Giveaway: Baltic Amber Adult Necklace

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Most of our giveaways are items for baby, but this giveaway is just for mama! It’s for a 17″ Baltic Amber necklace .  Now you might be thinking, wait a minute I thought those necklaces were to help with teething, why would an adult wear one?  Yes, they are very effective in comforting teething babies, however that is not the only use of amber. Baltic amber contains succinic acid which is a powerful anti-oxidant that can protect and heal our body. Wearing amber can help restore energy, provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and help maintain overall wellness. I wear an amber necklace everyday and can personally attest to the curative power of baltic amber. I strongly believe it has had positive impact on my running and kept me injury/pain free! In addition to the amazing benefits of amber, I also happen to really like the ‘look’ of amber. It has a beautiful, earthy appearance that is neutral enough to compliment pretty much my entire casual wardrobe. I wear mine daily and feel kind of ‘naked’ on the rare occasion I don’t have it on. I also have a habit of rolling the beads between my fingers if I am feeling nervous or anxious. As silly as it sounds, I believe this unconscious ritual is calming because it actually helps release the succinic acid into my skin.

Would you like to experience the benefits of Baltic Amber for yourself? Be sure to enter this week’s giveaway for your chance to win a FREE 17″ Baltic Amber Adult Necklace.