Remi Peers, a 24-year-old mum from the UK, posted a photo of her sore and cracked breasts on Instagram, alongside a call for more resources – and better knowledge sharing – around breastfeeding and mastitis.
“After hitting the 1 year breastfeeding mark last Sunday I felt compelled to share my story,” she starts. “Breastfeeding did NOT come easy for me. My milk came in after 5 days. I wasn’t aware that it could take that long, I didn’t even necessarily know what “milk coming in” meant. (Nobody ever taught me.)”
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Remi explains that she was the only woman breastfeeding on her ward and that no one had taught her about cluster feeding.
“When I got home, problems started to arise-my nipple literally cracked in half. I have never felt such pain, I dreaded every feed, but persisted with tears in my eyes until I was healed,” she writes.
She said that no one had ever taught her that breastfeeding could be painful and no one had ever shown her what a good latch looked like. She was too embarrassed to breastfeed in public and this resulted in clogged ducts and engorgement. Then came the mastitis.
“I remember waking up at 3am shivering, putting on my dressing gown and extra blankets and trying to feed my son,” she writes. “The pain. It was excruciating. I was shaking and sweating but freezing to my bones.”
“At 5am I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I needed to go to the hospital. We got my stepdad, a doctor, he took my temperature and said it was slightly high, but to take a paracetamol and try to sleep. 7am comes, I’ve had no sleep, and now I’m vomiting, he takes my temp again – 40C. I had developed sepsis overnight.”
Remi said this happened because she wasn’t able to recognise the more subtle signs of mastitis. She was rushed to hospital, given morphine and had to spend two nights separated from her baby. Now she’s calling for better education around breastfeeding and mastitis, so other new mums don’t have to go through the same thing.
“I mean general education, about the basics of breastfeeding, about cluster feeding, about the problems that can arise and what to do, how to spot them and how to remedy them,” she writes.
“The peddling of formula in the 60’s/70’s has broken the vital cycle of passing knowledge from one generation to the next. (I know formula saves lives and serves a great purpose) but in the past we would have had our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and friends, all giving their support, their wisdom and their knowledge. But many of our mothers and grandmothers don’t know, as they never breastfed.”
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She said women are not expected to give birth alone, but they’re expected to breastfed alone. Remi’s Instagram followers were quick to agree with her and share their own similar stories.
“I love this post, I also had real difficulty breastfeeding at first, having the same problems as yourself and developed mastitis too a week after baby came. there needs to be more posts like this, sorry you had to go through all of that!” one person commented.
“I had mastitis with my 4th baby. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Even after breastfeeding 3 children and on my fourth, no clue. Mine abscessed. There was a golf ball sized lump. We had to drain it and I was put on some mega antibiotics. I’m 100% agree with every word you’ve said,” added another.
Do you think there’s enough education around breastfeeding?