My family has been down with coughs and sniffles and my immunity was a bit compromised. I believe in this weakened state, I came down with mastitis. If you've experienced mastitis, then you know it feels as if you've been kicked in the chest by a mule.
NURSE, NURSE and NURSE
If you have mastitis (or a plugged duct), the golden rule is to NURSE, NURSE and NURSE some more on the affected breast. As painful as that is, it's the best way to go. You certainly do NOT want to stop nursing on the affected breast. What I usually do is nurse ONLY on the affected breast and pump out the other one.
LOTS OF FLUIDS...
Drink lots of fluids while you're nursing. I recommend tea and water. Rooibos tea is good for breast feeding moms and babies.
Lots of rest in the bed with baby nursing on demand. I abhor being sick, but I do get the rest that wouldn't get when I'm healthy, plus I get to spend time with baby which can be so much fun.
LOSE THAT BRA!
Although I suspect a lot moms may not want to encase their sore breast into anything that restricting, but if you do, I'd strongly suggest you go bra-less for the entire period. Let the ladies flow as they may. They will be glad you did! Now if you suspect that your bra is the cause for the mastitis, you should check your bra size.
If you have a mastitis without obvious signs of an infection (cracked bleeding nipple, pus), these three things should be enough to see some improvement in 24 hours. Normally, you wouldn't need antibiotics. However, if you do have an infection and you want to avoid antibiotics, raw garlic is wonderful as a natural antibiotic without the side effects.
You can support your rest period, by Echinacea, a herb that supports immune health and is safe for breast feeding moms when taken in regular doses. I have personally taken Echinacea while breast feeding and pregnant with no ill effects to speak of. Vitamin C is also a good way to support your rest period. If you're not feeling any improvement, or getting worse within 24 hours. I would encourage you to check in with your doctor.
Earth Mama, Angel Baby offers a really good eBook on breastfeeding and herbs. You can find it on the side bar.
Disclaimer ~ This article is provided on an informational basis only and is not designed to diagnose or treat mastitis. The reader assumes responsibility in following up this information by personal research and counseling with the appropriate professional.