Mastitis Care for Nursing Moms –Book Review

I read “Mastitis Care for Nursing Moms: What They Don’t Tell You (but Should!)” by Shannon Devaney when I first started nursing because a friend of mine shared with me a horrific story about mastitis and I wanted to know everything I could. After I read it I felt a lot more confident about dealing with mastitis if it came up.

Then last month I found myself with mastitis and I am even more grateful I read the book. I immediately started following the advice in her book. I was feeling better within a day of starting  treatment. It could have been coincidence, but I don’t think so.

I liked the fact that the book was short and stuck to the point. Turns out it had everything I needed. I had to re- read it to make sure I remembered things properly before starting treatment but since it was short, that was no trouble.  I followed her advice to the letter only adding one thing: alpha lipoic acid.

I added it because the first time I read it I thought it likely that mastitis sounded very much like a stye, usually starting when the body was fighting allergies, and if so alpha lipoic acid is very helpful for allergies.

One thing she says in the book is that if you have mastitis instead of a blocked milk duct you will know. The first time I read the book this sort of annoyed me because I clearly did not know. After having mastitis I now understand. Mastitis is awful and uncomfortable and very very distinctive.

I would highly recommend this book for any nursing mother.

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The Malingering Myth

After I am exposed to oils I often don’t feel up to par for a long time, sometimes months. Although the acute symptoms have gone, the more subtle problems will linger.

Often I feel guilty because these troubles interfere with the things that I need to do and also what I want to accomplish. I need extra sleep, extra downtime, or even to eat at inopportune moments and end up postponing rescheduling or even canceling events or activities that are too taxing. I chafe at my body’s need for extra care and attention. At times I wonder if I am broken or useless. I really try not to let these self defeating thoughts take over but it’s understandable that they pop up. Our society has little patience with illness. It is assumed that in order to require rest you have to have real measurable symptoms such as a fever to need time out. Malaise or weakness is just malingering.

Admit to tiredness and people will most likely recommend coffee not sleep. In the short term maybe a person can function on stimulants but in the long run it’s possibly the worst thing that a sick person can do to themselves. Even if a person is only run down, stressing the body out more is hardly going to make it better.

When a body has trouble with oils, oil exposure is a huge stressor. It is not malingering to take time out when sick. Although social pressure makes us doubt our less obvious symptoms, it’s important to support ourselves and take it easy after an oil exposure. Sometimes for quite a bit longer than we might imagine. Be kind to yourself and take the time you need.

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Peanut Butter

Recently a reader reminded me about how peanut butter often contains vegetable oils. This is very true.

Simple peanut butter of ground peanuts and salt separates at room temperature and needs to be stirred together again or stored in the refrigerator. Manufacturers have discovered that by removing the peanut oil and adding in palm oil or hydrogenated soy oil that the peanut butter stays together at room temperature. As an added benefit they can sell peanut oil for quite a price.

I was always drawn to the sugary no stir varieties of peanut butter. This probably significantly contributed to my illness. I have also become sick from consuming baked goods and candy with peanut butter in them. The peanut butter is listed but what is in the peanut butter is not.

I have consumed Haagen dazs peanut butter chocolate ice cream without any problem. It lists peanut butter and peanut oil on the label.

As for peanut butter, I have eaten Adams all natural peanut butter with only peanuts and salt in the ingredients with no problem. They do have a no stir version that I accidentally bought once or twice that has oils added. It’s the only product I have ever called the number on. The lady laughed at me when I asked if there was any oil used in manufacturing. Needless to say I wasn’t inspired to call again.

Recently I have been buying the Kirkland brand of organic peanut butter that only lists peanuts and salt on the label. It’s really tasty, smoother than Adams and I can buy a lot of it at a time. One downside is you need a Costco membership.

The other brand I used to buy was MaraNatha Peanut Butter with only peanuts and salt on the label. I liked it because it was super smooth, but it was very expensive and because it was so tasty it would disappear really fast.

On their Q and A page when asked “Are Your Almond, Cashew and Macadamia Butters peanut-free?” The company answers:

“These butters do not contain peanuts, but currently all of our products are produced in the same facility using shared equipment. We perform an exhaustive clean-out between production runs, but we can not guarantee that our products are 100% free from any trace of peanuts or the other nuts that share the equipment. If you or your child has an anaphylactic allergy response to peanuts or tree nuts, and you have any questions about whether or not it is appropriate to use our products, consult your doctor”

I stopped buying the other peanut butters at my co-op after reading on one of the jars a warning about being made on shared equipment with soy oil. Even though none of the other jars mentioned soy oil, they did mention soy and I was unable to convince myself to call any of the manufacturers and ask about it.

MaraNatha does make a no stir variety of peanut butter with vegetable oils in it and if it is made on the same equipment as the all natural peanut butter there is a chance of cross contamination. Although I have not been sick from the brand I have chosen not to consume it since reading that. Since just a trace of oil will make me sick I am unwilling to risk it.

Our co-op does have a peanut butter grinder on site, unfortunately the peanuts in it are unsalted. I don’t enjoy unsalted peanut butter and it is very difficult to add the salt afterwards in the correct amount. So I don’t generally do that even if it is a safe option. I might in the future if I need to though.

Another way to make safe vegetable oil free peanut butter is to make it yourself in a blender. It is actually possible to burn out your blender motor this way my friend tells me. If buying be careful to read the label for both ingredients and warnings about shared equipment.

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