25-year-old Remi Peers talks about mastitis, the agonizing side of breastfeeding, that is rarely discussed. Do you know the signs?

Remi Peers, the 25-year-old, first-time mom has revealed how breastfeeding left her with “excruciating pain” which developed into mastitis, and later, sepsis. Peers wants her experience to help mothers and soon-to-be expecting women.

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Remi Peers

Peers said she was in agonizing pain when she developed mastitis. Overnight, this turned into full-blown sepsis—a serious complication of an infection, which can lead to organ failure and death if left untreated. The sepsis developed because she didn't know the signs of mastitis.

"I had developed sepsis overnight,” Peers said, “because I was not able to recognize the more subtle signs of mastitis, as I had seen no redness that day."

Mastitis is a condition in which a woman's breast tissue becomes inflamed and painful.

It is most common in breastfeeding moms, especially in the first three months after giving birth.

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In breastfeeding women, it's often caused by a build-up of milk, primarily because the baby is having problems latching onto the nipple.

Symptoms, in which you should contact your doctor right away, include:

  • A red, swollen area on the breast, that feels hot and painful to touch.
  • A breast lump or “hard” area.
  • A burning pain—either continuous or only during breastfeeding.
  • Nipple discharge. This can be white or contain traces of blood.
  • Flu-like symptoms, like aches, fever, chills and lethargy.
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Peers had difficulty from the beginning of breastfeeding. Rudi, now two-years-old, had to wait five days for Remi Peers’ milk to come in.

"When I got home, problems started to arise. My nipple literally cracked in half,” Peers said.

"I have never felt such pain, I dreaded every feed, but persisted with tears in my eyes until I was healed. Nobody taught me that breastfeeding could be painful, nobody taught me what a good latch looked like."

Then, the worst of the pain, came with the mastitis.

"I remember waking up at 3 am shivering, putting on my dressing gown and extra blankets and trying to feed my son,” Peers said. “The pain. It was excruciating.”

"I was shaking and sweating but freezing to my bones. At 5 am I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I needed to go to the hospital.”

When Peers got to the doctor, her temperature read as “slightly high.” She was advised to “take a paracetamol and try and sleep.”

"7 am comes, I've had no sleep, and now I'm vomiting, he takes my temp again,” Peers said. “104°F. I had developed sepsis overnight.”

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Peers was then rushed to hospital, given morphine, anti-nausea medication, and the strongest antibiotics possible.

She was also separated from her baby for two nights, writing on Instagram: "I was heartbroken."

Peers said she “repeatedly asked for a breast pump during her stay, because mastitis gets worse if the milk isn't drained.” However, the staff told her they were "struggling to find one."

Remi Peers wants to raise awareness because she said it “isn't acknowledged how hard breastfeeding really is. Mums shouldn't be seen out into the world uninformed.”

"Women are not expected to give birth alone, but somehow today, they are expected to breastfeed alone and not share their experience with others,” Peers said. “This is why so many breastfeeding relationships end before they've even really started.”

Peers said, breastfeeding, just like walking, talking, reading, and writing, “it needs to be taught and it needs to be learned.”

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Remi Peers

"It may be natural, but it does not always come naturally," she said.

Peers first shared her story on the one-year anniversary of her hospital appointment, and re-posted it this year, to continue pushing for mastitis awareness.

Remi Peers has maintained her breastfeeding schedule, and says it became a lot easier than it was three months in.