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Acupuncture for mastitis?

March 2009

Hi, I developed mastitis when my son was 2.5 weeks (I didn't take antibiotics) and now at 5 weeks postpartum I have developed another infection requiring antibiotics. This second incident occurred on the same breast and in the same location as the first infection. I have heard that acupuncture has really helped some people to both cure and prevent mastitis. Does anyone have experience using acupuncture for this purpose? What are the pros and cons? Can anyone recommend an acupuncturist who is experienced in treating mastitis? Thanks Sonya

I have a 5-week old & also developed a breast infection at 2.5 weeks. I am a recently licensed acupuncturist, and received an acupuncture treatment for my infection from my mentor, Robert Zeiger. He also gave me some powdered Chinese herbal medicine that I took over the next few days. I think the acupuncture helped clear up the infection. It is also very important to rest as much as possible, drink lots of fluids, use warm compresses on the infected area & keep nursing from the infected breast. Acupuncture & herbs can be useful in clearing the infection, as well as in strengthening your body to help fight the infection. I'd highly recommend my teacher, Dr. Zeiger. He's at Telegraph & Ashby, (510) 843-7397. He has lots of experience with pregnancy, pediatrics & postpartum, etc. & he loves children. I also trust his judgment on the question of whether biomedical intervention is in order or not. Feel free to email me if you have more questions. All the best! Stephanie

I had mastitis when my daughter was three weeks old as well, horrible. Here's what worked for me, I took lecithin every day and fish oil, ask a lactation consultant how much to take. Then I went to a chiropractic office and had some very deep heating ultra sound done on the area of infection, this broke up the build up and blockage and eventually after three of these treatments it was gone. The ultrasound treatment is painful because deep heat and pressure is applied to the area but it works. Dr. Agi Ban is the chiropractor I saw and she is great: The mastitis didn't come back and I was able to breastfeed my daughter until she was 2 years 8 months. Sarah

I feel for you. I too experienced bouts of clogged ducts & hard spots, including one bout of mastitis. I can't advise you about acupuncture but wanted to pass along what worked wonders for me. Grated raw potato on the affected breast. Lie down on a ''chuk'' (waterproof pad) and heap the grated raw potato on. That got me laughing so much I'm sure part of the healing was in that alone. Leave it in place 20-30 minutes. The treatment was very effective; my fever and acheyness abated and the hard spot softened. Some women also use chopped cabbage in the same way or even tuck a whole cabbage leaf inside their bra. Strange but true. Hard spots/clogged ducts are a strong signal to slow down, rest more and call on whatever support you have. Let others take care of you. All the best to you. food as medicine

It is an old Russian way to treat breast infections - Go to organic store , buy white cabbage , take the leaf, wash it and put it in your bra over night , you can leave it for day too, but change the leaf every 24 hours.Sounds funny, but it is really working ! It can take 4 days , but I promise you that you will feel better next day already. Oxana

I had a really, really hard time brestfeeding the first time .. extreme pain, chapping, undiagnosed thrush and then a cellulitis staph infection. All this went on for about 7-8 weeks - then got better thanks to my acupunturist - and I went on to nurse my child for a year. My Acupunturist's name is Melanie Linebaugh (510-526-3620) is located in Berkeley. She is knowledgable, experienced (12+ years) and friendly. She has helped me before, during & after my pregnancies, with muscle tension and relaxation. I also no longer take prescribed migraine medicine because of her treatments. Jen D

Repeat mastitis--continue breastfeeding?

July 2008

I breastfeed my first child for a year and a half without a single problem. However, with my second baby (now 5 months) I've had mastitis 3 times now, and multiple clogged ducts. I've met with a lactation consultant, and we are evidently breast feeding correctly. Her only idea is that my milk is really thick and therefore I easily get clogged ducts. I've been taking lecithin, which seemed to help, until I got my third bout of mastitis last week. Each time I get mastitis, I get horrible fevers, and feel like I have the flu. I always try to clear my clogged ducts before they lead to infection, but once I get really sick, I have to take antibiotics. I've taken antibiotics three times now, and really want to continue breastfeeding, but I'm worried about the health effects of taking so many antibiotics. My OB says that b/c I've had repeat infections, I'll most likely continue getting them and just need to decide how much more I can take (which seemed like horrible and not very helpful advice). Has anyone ever been through a similar situation? How did you weigh the benefits of breastfeeding your baby vs the health impact of taking multiple antibiotic treatments? Does anyone have any other tips for avoiding mastitis, besides taking lecithin? I've stopped doing any strenuous exercise (no more sports bra), have a non- underwire bra, don't sleep on my stomach, etc. Thanks for the advice! love breastfeeding but hate antibiotics

I feel your pain, mom. I had *35*, yes 35 cases of full blown mastitis. I had thick milk, my kids were fat, I lost tons of weight due to the fat going out of my body into amount of antibiotics could stop the recurring infections. I tried everything (had the kids at home, and was really motivated). Nothing worked. The only thing I'd say to you is, watch out for sepsis. I got it twice, and it could have killed me. Get a prescription to start taking at any signs of sepsis ( ask your doc or look on the net, basically it's uncontrollable shaking, pallor, vomiting, low blood pressure, fever, etc. I breastfed through it all, being young at the time and fairly ''militant''. I don't regret it, but I feel like I risked a lot and suffered maybe more than I should have. Best of luck to you.

I have 3 children, each 3-4 years apart, and ended up either nursing or being pregnant for a 12 year steady period. During that time I had repeat mastitis-- probably more than a dozen times, with symptoms just as you described. Awful. Got the same advice--there's probably something about my specific anatomy, and this will keep happening. I used antibiotics the first several times but finally got so that I could anticipate when these infections were coming, and could head them off. Here's what I'd do: a) leave work immediately and go home and rest; b) take a warm bath; c) while in the tub, use a hair brush to stroke the area (to increase circulation) and work to express some milk; d) when I got out, put a cabbage leaf in my bra (on the side of the infected breast)...don't laugh..; e) rest some more. My systemic symptoms would typically be gone the next a.m., though the sore area would take some days to pass. I got so I could detect the clogged duct earlier and earlier (a hint of body ache would send me searching to find a localized sore spot). The sooner I stopped and did this series of treatments, the quicker the infection passed. I never controlled variables, so don't know what combination of treatments worked--I like to think it had everything to with the cabbage ; ). My midwife (in addition to mentioning the cabbage and hair brush) also told me to salt my food more heavily. As a full-time working mother, being able to breast-feed my kids for several years each was important to me, and worth every discomfort that came about with the bouts with mastitis. been there

Hi there, I also have had repeat mastitis (3 times and multiple clogged ducts) and I can 't believe your OB gave you that advice! After approx. 6 months I stopped having problems and now my baby is almost 11 months and I haven't had a clogged duct or mastitis since. A few things that helped me in addition to what you are already doing- I took ''more milk plus'' a liquid herbal supplement available at the Foodmill (and I'm sure other natural food stores), drank mother's milk tea, and when I felt a clogged duct forming I would take the homeopathic remedy phytolacca decandra and that helped it clear and not turn into mastitis. Another thing I haven't tried but have read about is drinking apple cider vinegar- many women swear by it. Good luck and definitely stick it out with the breast feeding since I'm sure it will get better!! Sarah

I had tons of blocked ducts and realized the fevers were not all mastitis. I also took tons of antibiotics to the point where the pharmacist asked why I was there very other week. After 3 bouts of antibiotics, which also meant a few hours of sweating or freezing then sleeping in bed, I asked around. A receptionist at a maternity ward gave me the best advice, which lactation consultants did not tell me. take a sweat sock and fill it half way with rice. Put it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds and put it on your breast where the blockd usually occur. DO this just before you begin breastfeeding or on the opposite breast that the baby is on. It helps to loosen the milk. If you can, also massage that area of the breast by pushing down andn rubbing the breast toward the nipple while the baby is nursing. You should also pump after the baby nursing to make sure you 'drain the breast' even though it never really drains. Massage while pumping. I couldn't produce enough to satisfy my son but my milk was a great appetizer while we mixed the formula. I made the choice to keep breastfeeding even though he was only get about 1/2 oz from each breast but the cudding was great for both of us. This started for me at 3 weeks and I 'fed' him until about 1 year. Didn't give up

Wow, I was in your exact situation. Had few such problems with my first child, then had about FIVE bouts with mastitis with #2 - the last when she was 14 months or so! Needless to say, it was traumatic, especially taking all those antibiotics. But (despite the last bout) it did get much better.

Here's my advice: drink LOTS AND LOTS of water. It helps ''thin'' your milk and keeps your body functioning well. Second, sleep more. Exhaustion plays a HUGE role. Third, if you feel a blockage coming on, soak your breast in epsom salts with very warm water (a large cereal bowl works!) then try to pump or nurse about an hour later. Fourth, do the lecithin and avoid fatty/greasy foods. Fifth, get probiotics for yourself and your baby. They're good for your system, especially if you are taking antibiotics (you have to time them so you're not just wiping them out with the meds). Sixth, tickle your baby's toes and rotate his/her position so you're draining all the ducts properly.

It's tough when it seems like it keeps happening, but you will get it under control, and it's so worth it. --good luck!

I too have suffered through many bouts of mastitis. When I see red spots on my breast I make sure I pump a few times between feedings so the breast fully drains. I am not a medical professional, but from what I understand it is not that your milk is too thick it is that the milk stays in the breast and clogs the ducts. Lecithin helps to make it run smoother so it doesn't clog. My midwife put me in contact with Pam Caldwell, an herbalist, who has the great website I ordered her poke root and take it when I feel mastitis coming on. I think it has prevented a few cases. Keep breastfeeding though because even though there may be antibiotics in your breast milk, you will still be passing on good nutrition and other benefits. Shannon

I also had repeat mastitis with my second baby after having no problems with the first. I know that once you have an infection you are more likely to get another one, but one thing to consider - with me, the infection turned out to be one of those nasty MRSAs going around. The only reason I found out is that I had had one on my leg several months before, and I insisted on being tested for it. Turns out, while the antibiotics I was taking were suppressing the infection, they weren't strong enough to kill it off completely so it kept coming back. I had to have IV antibiotics and a round of very strong oral antibiotics, which meant I had to pump and dump for a while, but once it was done I was able to breastfeed for several more months without any problems.

Also, when you take antibiotics you should take probiotics to help replace the good bacteria for both you and your baby. You can get them at a health food store. Jarrow also makes a baby probiotic that you can mix in with a bottle. Infection free

i've struggled with mastitis. i had it 3 days after my natural homebirth, had fevers of 103 every other day at 3am for 6 days, & chose not to take antibiotics because i'd already gone through so much to ensure a drugfree birth (in spite of being GBS+). instead, i took whole garlic & echinacea to assist the fever in clearing the infection & homeopathics to clear the ducts (phytolacca, byronia, etc) along w/hot compresses with fenugreek or poultice of ginger & sake followed by cold or cabbage leaf compresses. i took probiotics & reprod system-supporting nutritional supplements to support my internal ecology. if you're on antibiotics, you should take probiotics to restore your & baby's good intestinal bacteria and prevent thrush. from a holistic perspective, fever is a natural reaction that helps to clear out infections & takes its course over 7 days and shouldn't be suppressed; from a TCM perspective, 2-3am is the body's time for restoration and fevers commonly spike at that time. is a great breastfeeding resource with suggestions on holistic treatments. homeopathic is obtained at most natural food/health stores and even yogurt has some active probiotic cultures.

since you're careful about other common causes of mastitis, something to consider is that having bacteria in itself is normal, more importantly, why is your body reacting as an infection? is it stress, not enough rest, lowered immune system, allergies, nutrition, etc that are exacerbating your body's immunological defenses? for myself i realized it was my hyperactive immune system (i've multiple chemical sensitivities) going into red alert after unintentional exposure to chemicals during the birth (nonoxynl-9 in the hibiclens, topical anesthetic), fatigue & not bundling up after the birth & exposing my back & chest to air. knowing what triggers an immunological reaction is the key to prevention.

continuing breastfeeding is an intensely personal decision. antibiotics can set up a vicious self-fulfilling cycle though, so try to take steps to restore your body & baby's balance with probiotics, holistic medicine, acupunture. if its any consolation, moms who have overcome mastitis are the most committed breastfeeders because we have struggled so intensely. my doula & lact. cons. Samsarah Morgan holds hours at Tea & Tumble in Oakland. she was a great, reassuring resource and fully supported my natural approach to recovery. lpn

Boy, do I know your pain! We just had our 3rd baby and I also had mastitis 3 times in the past 3 months. I ended up in the emergency room once. I was so upset that I had to take antibiotics, but I truly had no choice. But this is how I have been able to prevent it: We have a holistic doctor that we work with. Unfortunately, he isn't in the Bay Area, but he can and will treat someone long distance. His name is Tom Skrenes and his office phone number is 714.669.8845. He put me on an herbal program and that stopped me from getting these breast infections. I had to take the herbs four times a day, but it worked like a charm! joj

Well, I've been told I hit some sort of record at having 8 bouts of mastitis over the 2-1/2 years that I breastfed my son. I didn't have to take antibiotics all those times, although I did take mroe than my fair share. It's been some years now, but let's see what I can remember that helped. First off, good about the giving up sports bras and also underwire bras. I had to give up any that gave any sort of shape at all and wear only 100% cotton nursing bras that were in fact a little loose. Also, when showering, give your nipples a little twist to keep the ducts from plugging up. Let your nipples dry naturally, and expose them to a few minutes of sun every few days. My ob/gyn told me that she'd heard that drinking a cup of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar helped to ward off mastitis, and while it was hard to do, it really did cut down on the bouts. She also told me to drink lots and lots of extra water at the very first sign of a bout. Both things helped considerably. Also, get extra rest when there is any indication of a bout coming on. And nurse, nurse, nurse. good luck to you

i experienced a very similar situation, except that i figured out how to treat mastitis by the time i had my second baby. w/ the first, i got it at least seven times (!!! i stopped counting!) i would get fever, etc. and always had to take antibiotics. my advice is to keep nursing (i love it!), but get lots of rest/monitor your stress b/c i would get it when i was run-down. then, at the first sign of infection (chills, light fever, soreness or redness)i take a homeopathic called phytolacca decandra 30, available in health food stores. i swear by it. i haven't had to take antibiotics since. it's safe and recommended by midwives to help keep the milk from getting plugged up. it works like a miracle for me. good luck! grace

Maybe you should find another OB but Please don't stop breastfeeding. I had multiple times between the 3-6month period with my first child when I got plugged ducts that led sometimes to fever/flu like symptoms. I recommend focusing on the clearing the clogged ducts by nursing lots, especially on the effected side. stand in the hot shower and manually express the milk --push on the painful area to try to clear the duct, use a breastpump in the middle of the night when the baby is sleeping. have the baby nurse with chin pointing to the painful part. Nurse standing on hands and knees with breast hanging. Don't use a bra at all. I did not end up ever using the antibiotics because the fever cleared on the 2nd day. letting the infection build up can be dangerous so I don't recommend waiting long with a fever. Also rest is really important. I wouldn't recommend stopping your exercise--just don't use a jogbra. These troubles will likely pass when your milk supply is more regular and the teething is less intense. molly

Only you can answer that question. But let me relay what I did to help with repeated Mastitis. Every week, yes every week from November to May I would get a severe plugged duct - random side and random location - that would start the inflamation and fever symptoms. I developed a few tricks to ward off infection before it got too strong. I lost track how many bouts I had. But besides tracking what I ate: Took Lecithin * Reduced dairy foods * Took ''Mastitis'' herbal drops from Wishgarden - This is the stuff the really worked - I took it at the maximum dosages. It significantly reduces the pain, inflamation so I could avoid a full blown case and the antibiotics. * First sign of a plugged duct - used a heated rice bag on the spot while massaging the area too. * I sometimes dipped the breast into a bowl of hot water or take a hot shower to ease the plug.
But for me what drove me to continue was that I had Crohns Disease in the family, I was determined to nurse at least 6 months because the research showed a direct correlation between the risk of Crohns and length of nursing (the longer the baby was nursed the lower the risk - the highest risk was in babies with no breastmilk). So I ended up nursing, repeated Mastitis and all, for 14mo. Having watched my father die from a long drawn out painful Crohns as a young girl, I just figured my discomfort for only a ''few more weeks'' would be worth it if I could avoid that for my baby. Every few more weeks, I hung on ''a few more weeks'' that is how I made it. Glad it is over, but glad I did it

I was also continually plagued with plugged ducts while nursing both my babies. Left untreated, my plugged ducts would turn into mastitis (high fevers, antibiotics, etc.). However, I learned to successfully detect and treat plugged ducts and clear them, so after that I never had mastitis again.

Here's what I did. After work each day, I would check my breasts for lumps. I found that if I caught them early, they were easy to clear. I would take a warm shower and massage the lumps with gradually increasing force, pushing them toward the nipple. Usually this would work; however, if they were particularly difficult to clear, I would ask my husband to push on the stubborn spot while I was nursing. Sometimes it took a bit of force to clear the clog, but it always worked eventually. The combination of pushing on the plug while the baby was sucking was very effective. (If the baby wasn't hungry -- a rare occasion in our household! -- a breast pump worked almost as well.)

I also had a friend who used a wide-toothed comb in the direction of the nipple to work out the clogs. And I also found that it helped, if possible, to take some time to de-stress. Life is difficult with a new baby, and it's important to take time to take care of yourself. We went in the hole financially for a few years while our kids were young, to take the best care of both our children and ourselves (e.g. babysitters, housecleaners), and I don't regret it. When they get older, they won't be quite as expensive! I'm glad I breastfed my healthy children

Mastitis & Swollen Breast Tissue

May 2007

I came down with mastitis 1 week after my baby was worn. My OB prescribed antibiotics which cleared the infection and referred me to a breast surgeon, who aspirated one of the 4 lumps. He found a milky fluid, but no bacteria. I was told to keep nursing, using warm compresses, and massage the lumps, and my body would take care of the plugged ducts. It hasn't worked. now, 4 weeks later, I have mastitis again, with the same flu- like symptoms. To make matters worse, one of the lumps has increased to 2'' in diamater, and has become red and tender. Once again I'm prescribed antibiotics. the OB thinks it's galactocele, which is a cyst filled with thick milk caused by a plugged duct, since aspiration showed a milky fluid. Has anyone had this before who actually got better? How were you treated and who treated you? I'm looking for names of doctors in the East Bay who will do something about getting rid of my lumps. I love breastfeeding my baby and don't want to give it up, since she's not 6 weeks old yet. But the lumps are making me very discouraged and depressed.

I unfortunately don't have the name of a good ob/gyn here for your problem, but suggest you check out ''The Nursing Mother's Companion'' which had a lot of advice and info. If things are high stress you might just get mastitis often; but there are ways to keep it down and to catch it before it actually becomes full blown. I did get it a lot but managed to nurse my child until he was almost 2 (at which point I was the one who stopped it, not mastitis). The first 6-8 weeks are the hardest, so it should get a lot easier, good luck! anon

I had mastitis a week after my baby was born in Nov 2006, then a few months later again. Both times I had very painful lumps, red, swolen, and large. That was, of course, on top of the worst flu-like symptoms I could have ever imagined. On the recc of my midwife, Jerri Zukoski, I saw Dr. Rudd in Berkeley. He saw me immediately, and gave me a very thorough exam. Prescribed antibiotics, and I felt better whitin 3 days. The lump took much longer to go away, and to give you an idea of how hot they were - my skin was peeling on the spot of the lumps after they subsided, just like your skin would peel after a bad, blistery sunburn. The bad news is - once you have had one mastitis, you are more prone to have more, but the good news is - they tend to be less likely as the months go on. Have your baby continue to nurse on the affected side, but be aware that milk production can decrease during an infection. Keep up with the hot compresses, and make sure you go the full course of the antibiotics you were prescribed. Good luck! anon

Mastitis is the worst, I'm so sorry to hear about yours. I've had it 3 times already and my daughter is only 3 months. I haven't had lumps to the severity of what you're having, but maybe some of what I've done will help. The last bout of mastitis I developed very hard, swollen lumps. I was determined not to have any more medical intervention, so I did some things that seemed to have really worked. The first is I increased my intake of fluids tremendously. To a ridiculous amount. Sounds simple, but I truly believe it has helped. Yes, I have to pee all the time but it's just like being pregnant again! Secondly, I do the warm compress and massage that lump. I've heard you want to avoid strenuous massage, but it really goes down after I spend some good time massaging it during a feeding. And I'm diligent about the warm compress. All these things are hard to do when you have a new baby screaming for her food, I know. Best of luck. I do think that the best thing you can do is keep your baby on your breast and flush those lumps out with fluid intake. I've heard great things about lecitin supplements, too. LeLeche might have some good advice, too. Good luck and good health!! Elizabeth

I am sorry to hear about your unpleasant introduction to breastfeeding; I got mastitis the same day my milk came in, and the complications from there seemed neverending. I don't have experience with your specific situation (surgery, recurrent mastitis, etc.), but maybe my experience will be useful somehow. I had recurrent plugged ducts (painful 2'' lumps every week or so for several months); each one took about 3 days of warm compresses to relieve it. But this phase did pass, and I was ultimately able to breastfeed for 2 years. If you can make it through the first few months, the ''plumbing'' settles down and works better at that point. Do you have a good lactation consultant? I found that OBs and surgeons didn't understand very much about lactation at all. If you don't like the first one, keep trying . . . it can be hard to find a match. LC's will tell you that almost every mom can work through breastfeeding problems. Then, if it turns out you are one of the ones who can't, or the process is becoming detrimental to your relationship with your baby, at least you'll know you tried your best. I know this is a difficult time and I wish you the best. ekc

I sorry that I can't recommend a doctor but I want to extend my sympathy. I too suffered from mastitis 4 times in the first two or three months of nursing, starting a week after giving birth. Every time I ended antibiotics, a new infection seemed to develop. My theory is that at the beginning I was producing a lot more milk that my baby needed. If this could be your problem, nursing from only one breast at a feeding could help moderate supply. Also, you could try applying cabbage leaves to relieve engorgement. The good news is that eventually my body coordinated with his needs and and my son nursed for about a year; he weaned gradually and my body had no problems adjusting as he dropped feedings. I hope you are feeling better soon! anon

Just last month I had horrible clogged ducts. They hurt so much I had trouble sleeping, I couldn't carry my baby on that side, was in a lot of pain even just moving my arm. I could feel a lump about an inch across and nothing I did was helping, and I tried pretty much everything -- warm compresses and showers, massage, extra nursing and pumping, etc. After about 10 days of this (and when I was starting to get red patches on my breast), I called Janaki Costello who is a *fabulous* lactation consultant (525-1155) who gave me some additional suggestions which really helped. She told me to get epsom salt and soak my breast for 10 minutes in water as hot as I could stand. She suggested cold compresses and gentle massage over and in front of the clog and to reduce the amount I was pumping (I have problems with over-production and all the pumping I was doing was making it worse). Within two days, things started feeling better and within a week, it was fine.

Your situation because it is different than mine so she'll probably have different suggestions for you. Call her, she's great! She knows tons about breast feeding, is really nice, and isn't afraid to tell you when she doesn't know something. good luck with the nursing

A friend had frequent bouts of mastitis: an additional recommendation was for her to cut back on saturated (solid) fats primarily found in animal fats, and to include more liquid fats (unsaturated), like plant fats. I think she also took a lecithin supplement. This along with everything else that has been recommended seemed to help tremendously. j

Weaning after recurring mastitis

July 2003

Since my 8 1/2 month old was born, I have had severe mastitis six times (requiring antibiotics) and mild mastitis three times (cured with home remedies). I am now researching how to wean and am curious if any one else has had this experience. What has the weaning process been like and has the mastitis come back once you have weaned (As Dr. Jack Newman suggests can happen)? I've been told the weaning process should take two weeks or more, is this normal? Thanks.
weaning mother

I too had recurring mastitis -- I've had it about 6 times, 3 with antibiotics. I don't know about weaning, but I have not had mastitis in about a month. I think I kept getting it b/c I had cracked nipples, and bacteria kept getting in. There are many things that can help prevent mastitis if you are interested in still breastfeeding. I got some very helplful info from La Leche League. Stay very hydrated, nurse on both sides often, don't wear anything that presses against the breast, ie some slings, try taking lecithin, an herbal supplement and use lanolin with every feeding to heal nipples.

Do you really want to wean? Have you talked with a lactation consultant? Can you find another way to help with the mastitis? I had many bouts of mastitis, like you, five or six that required antibiotics and several more that I warded off by drinking extra water and seeing an acupuncturist. I really did not want to wean early (nor did my son), and so I kept at it using a combination of prevention techniques (hot showers, massage, acupuncture, lots and lots of water, having my son drain my breasts when he nursed). I also stopped pumping and feeding breast milk with a bottle. That cut down on my production, so that I was really only producing as much as my son drank. As my son got older, he gradually weaned himself, which was the easiest for me. I just produced less and less each day, so that when he stopped, I did not feel discomfort at all. If you really do want to wean, I suggest you get The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning, ignore all suggestions that you continue (even mine), set up a plan for yourself, and just do it. You and your baby will both be okay.
Been there.

This regards your mastitis problem. It is much more severe than I experienced, however, I had mastitis when beginning the nursing of my son. My doctor gave me several different antibiotics to try and stop the increasing infection and high fevers. Nothing was working and I was in tears nursing. I finally went to an accupunturist/homeopathist here in Berkeley. She gave me both a one time homeopathy remedy and an intensified accupunture treatment. I stayed there an hour with the needles and then went home. By the time I was home my fever had gone down significantly and by night time the inflammation was decreasing significantly. Two days and I was over it completely. I was never more impressed with an alternative treatment and immediately told my gynecologist and doctor about it. They also were very impressed and relieved to know they needn't worry any more. I hope this is helpful.

First of all, I'm sorry for your troubles. I too had repeated mastitis requiring antibiotics, and more plugged ducts that I can remember. Here is a perspective on continuing to breastfeed instead of weaning, to avoid problems, strange as that may sound. I found that when my daughter was between 8 and 10 months old, eating more and more solids and nursing less, the plugged ducts pretty much stopped, or I was able to avoid them by not wearing bras too tight, or sleeping on my stomach, a dose of motrin etc. Here's the good part - I finally started to enjoy breastfeeding! Since I nursed my daughter until 2, when she was down to once/day, it didn't cause any problems once I quit. Also, if it helps - I had no plugged ducts with my second child - a combination of experience and a avid nurser!

I also had recurring mastitis with my first child. I found stress, lack of sleep, and infrequent nursing contributed to the formation of plugged ducts, which if I couldn't clear within a day or so, led to mastitis requiring antibiotics. I developed a number of techniques to clear the plugged ducts, the best one involving allowing the baby to nurse (or putting on the breast pump) while I or my husband did VERY deep massage on the plug. It was rather painful but better than the mastitis! I would check my breasts for plugs every day, and I learned to tell when my body was feeling a little funny, almost like the way you feel when you need to urinate, and check for a plug. Then I would work on it as long as necessary to clear it.

I think sudden weaning would have made things much worse. I let her wean naturally, and my milk supply gradually lessened on its own. As that happened, I developed fewer plugged ducts. In the meantime, I had a second child (while the older one was still nursing once every day or two). When my milk came back in, the plugged ducts started to develop again. However, this time, I found that tandem nursing could reliably be counted on to clear the plugs, and I never got mastitis with the second child!
Good luck!
suffered from mastitis