Good Baby Stuff

Breastfeeding, mastitis and raw potato slices


What's this I hear about using potato slices to cure mastitis?

What's this I hear about using potato slices to cure mastitis?

If you’re breastfeeding and prone to getting mastitis, you’ll know those telltale symptoms in no time. Breast pain. Not tenderness pain of a blocked duct (I’ve had those too) but a really acute pain. Redness. Everytime your boob moves, whether getting out of bed or bending down to pick something up, not to mention nursing, you’ll feel it. My last bad case, I didn’t think I could even get out of bed. 

Make sure you have  some potatoes around all the time. This sounds like one of those iffy old wives tale remedies, but I can assure it you it works for minor cases. On two occasions I could feel the mastitis coming on, and I took a tip from Dr Jack Newman’s website, which says to use  raw potato slices on the sore red part of the breast. I wish I knew this the first three times I had mastitis. Yes. I’ve beaten three bad bouts of mastitis using crateloads of cloxacillin, and two minor ones using the humble potato.

(And I did try other remedies, warm compresses, warm showers and baths, massaging the area, bed rest, constant nursing. You name it, I did it.)

This is what you do, courtesy of Dr Newman’s site (this info doesn’t appear in the book)

Within the first 24 hours of symptoms, you may find that applying raw potatoes to the breast, in slices, to be very helpful in reducing the pain and the swelling and redness of the infection.  Many mothers have reported that this is extremely effective, works quickly, and often eliminates the need for further treatment.

·         Cut 6-8 washed, raw potatoes (preferably lengthwise) into thin slices, approximately 1/8” to ¼” thick.  Place in a large bowl of water (room temp.) and leave out.

·         Apply wet potato slices to breast and affected areas.  Leave in place for 15-20 min.

·         Remove and discard used slices.  They should feel hot and softened. Apply fresh slices from bowl. 

·         Repeat process two more times, totalling approximately 3 applications per hour.  Take a 20-30 minute break and then repeat procedure.

I can assure you from my own experience, this works really well to take away the mastitis, but you have to catch it in time. Three days later and there will probably be too much infection for it to work. If you have a raging fever, you’re probably too far gone and should just get antibiotics. Don’t let it turn into an abscess! I had one of those, too. 


What Cillian is doing now: Jumping on his Jolly Jumper and howling…basically getting himself nice and tired for bedtime. 


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  1. * Michelle says:

    How did you know you had an abscess? What did they do for it? I am trying the potato slices right now! I had mastitis in two places on one breast when my baby was about 2 weeks old… Now I feel it coming on again in the same breast, but I am trying to stop it before I have to take antibiotics again.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 5 months ago
    • * helenracanelli says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Hang in there…mastitis seems so devastating, at least for me, but if you’ve had it a few times (and I know this will sound crazy) you start to think of it as a cold or any other minor ailment. (Don’t forget to drink lots of liquids, even if you don’t feel like it.) I got it again not that many weeks ago (my baby is 1) and I just called the house-visit doctor, shrugged it off, and used it as an excuse to lie in bed with a magazine and lots of liquids.

      Anyhow, the abscess, I had a lump that wouldn’t go away, even with a full course of antibiotics. It was really a lump, not just a clogged duct, I could see it sitting there under my skin almost like a marble. It would move back and forth a bit if I palpated it.

      At about the two week mark, I had to go to the breast mammography clinic at the hospital where I had the baby, and they gave me an ultrasound to check it out. Turns out it was indeed a lump of infection but no liquid that they could drain, so I just stayed on antibiotics (6 weeks on Cloxacillin) on the recommendation of my ob/gyn and little by little, it went away. It was so scary!

      Another mother told me that once you get mastitis there is a good chance it will come back (more than once). That was certainly true for me. In the scope of things, in the scope of life, it’s a bummer but really, not a huge deal. So hang in there, you’re doing good by keeping at the breastfeeding!

      The mastitis might spontaneously resolve, and I hope the potato slices work for you! In my experience: if it doesn’t feel too bad and isn’t too red, it usually works. If the pain comes on suddenly and extremely painfully with a lot of redness, I’ve had to go to the antibiotics. I’ve taken clox 4 times now for 4 bouts. That used to get me upset then I reminded myself that people go on antibiotics long term for acne, which is just a cosmetic thing!

      Keep strong and feel better!

      | Reply Posted 8 years, 5 months ago

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