being a mom

Breastfeeding After Mastitis Isn’t Easy, But One Mom Shows It’s Possible

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We all know “fed is best” when it comes to figuring out how you’ll feed your babies. There’s a lot of controversy around breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, but honestly, babies just need to eat, right? But if you’ve made the decision to breastfeed and run into problems, it can be incredibly difficult and demoralizing. One mom’s story about breastfeeding after mastitis may help other moms out there who’re also struggling.

Jenna Blackley faced struggles from the beginning of her breastfeeding journey with son Bodhi.

Jenna says Bodhi had difficulty latching from the very start, and was losing weight. She was told to nurse, pump, then syringe feed her baby, which led to many sleepless nights. In a picture she shared on Instagram, she details some of the other issues she had while trying to breastfeed.

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You look at this and initially just see a boob, and if you're familiar, a breast pump. I look at this and see the survivor of the 6 week battle I just endured. My journey began with Bodhi's poor latch after birth. We had multiple visits to lactation consultants as well as to the pediatrician for weight checks because he was constantly dropping weight. Eventually they put me on a regimen to nurse him, then pump, then syringe feed him. This process would take me 2 hours and they wanted me to do it every 3 hours…so if you can imagine we were barely sleeping, if at all. Even with all of that work, he was still dropping weight so we had to start supplementing with formula when I would syringe feed him. Finally, he started gaining. His weight gain could also be thanks to us finding out he was tongue tied. I had to take him to a specialist in Oakland to have it clipped. Unfortunately his tie was so posterior that the doctor could only clip a small amount otherwise it would be too dangerous. With that being said, she warned me that the small clip wouldn't solve our issues and we would continue to have our latch problems. However, after the clip he started latching on to my left without a nipple shield, which was a huge milestone! Meanwhile, I was diagnosed with mastitis and was on antibiotics. If you don't know anything about mastitis, just know that it is excruciatingly painful, makes your whole body ache, causes horrible headaches and some of the worst fevers and night sweats I've ever had. Two weeks of antibiotics and my mastitis didn't go away, it only got worse. My doctor started me on a different antibiotic and the very next day I had to see a breast specialist. That visit brought upon an exam, an ultrasound, an attempt at an extraction, and then an admittance into the hospital for general surgery. The surgery successfully got out 3 large abscesses from my right breast. The incision went through my nipple but the abscesses were so large she had to use an ultrasound during the surgery. She also had to make another incision on the right side my my breast to get the rest of it. So I'll have a nice scar to remember all this! (Continued…)

A post shared by J e n n a B l a c k l e y (@jenna_michele) on

Bodhi had a posterior tongue tie, which doctors were able to partially clip. Then, Jenna was diagnosed with mastitis that didn’t respond to antibiotics. She eventually had to have 3 abscesses removed from her right breast.

The incision was made in her nipple, and had to be kept open so the milk could drain. It left her unable to nurse at all on her right side. That’s a lot to go through, but Jenna says it made her resolve to breastfeed Bodhi even stronger.

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I'm lucky to have had so many people check in on me to see how I'm doing after having surgery for the mastitis abscesses…the truth is, I'm still in a lot of pain and I'm still struggling. I don't think I've ever battled so hard to succeed at something in my life. Breastfeeding is not easy and it's not for the weak minded, but it is important to me. I still have a house nurse come daily to unpack and pack my open wound on my right breast. Being unable to use it has put my left side on overdrive and left me with a cracked and bleeding nipple. I had to take 3 days off from breastfeeding, and gently pump just to heal (all while panicking that Bodhi would get used to the bottle and not want to latch back on.) Today we started nursing again (he latched on fine btw ?)…but because my milk production has slowed down a bit, I had to use the SNS method to make sure Bodhi was getting enough. It's another challenging thing to add to my list of bumps in the road but it's helping us get back on track- hopefully. Some people have told me I'm crazy and to just give my baby formula, but I'm doing what I feel is best as his mother and that's not giving up. ??? #breastfeeding #mastitis #sns #supplementalnursingsystem #mominainteasy

A post shared by J e n n a B l a c k l e y (@jenna_michele) on

“I don’t think I’ve ever battled so hard to succeed at something in my life. Breastfeeding is not easy and it’s not for the weak minded, but it is important to me.”

The mastitis, surgery, and subsequent recovery took a toll on Jenna. She and Bodhi still faced struggles, but she said she was battling through it all because she felt it was the best thing she could do as his mom.

Breastfeeding after mastitis isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve experienced some of the complications Jenna describes.

We respect her decision to stick it out and keep trying! She’s his mama, and she did what she felt she needed to do. We all make decisions as parents, and it’s how we feel about those decisions that matters. We hope things got a bit easier for Jenna and Bodhi since she shared her story.

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(Image: Facebook / Jenna Blackley)