Have you ever experienced the pain that is shingles? I don’t recommend it. Especially not an inch above the nipple and around the back. Especially not with a handsy breastfeeder.
But my baby was exclusively breastfed so I did what I needed to do.
Somehow my baby knew that I was in a delicate state and was very helpful with reminding me to breathe when I was tense, playing with me on the bed when Daddy was at work, and playing with Daddy for the majority of the day when the weekend finally arrived.
It lasted a little over two weeks, but the first week was the hardest. Here’s what happened:
I woke up one morning and looked down to see some bumps right across my chest. It felt a little tingly. I knew what it was in an instant. That day wasn’t too bad. The next two days I really needed to focus on being relaxed, but I was still able to play in the nursery. By the fourth day I probably should have hired a post-partum doula to help me out with my baby but instead, we stayed in bed and played and rested for the majority of the day. (Not something that will typically work out, but thankfully it did that day.) After that, my husband had a long weekend and I was able to stay in bed. He brought my baby in for feedings and to say hi once in awhile, but that was the most time I’d spent on my own since my baby came into my life.
What didn’t I do?
I didn’t go to the doctor. I had classic shingles symptoms so I already knew what was going on. I also knew that they would only offer pain medication and antivirals - both of which I was unwilling to take.
Do I suggest you skip the doctor? Nope! I suggest you listen to your inner wisdom and figure out what’s best for you. I knew how to assess my situation, I knew what complications to look for, and I knew my medical options. I therefore chose what was best for me and my family which was to skip the MD.
I didn’t stop breastfeeding. I knew that, chances are, my baby would be exposed. Breastfeeding allowed me to pass on all the good immune factors my baby needed to stay healthy. My baby did stay healthy.
What did I do?
I got acupuncture. Unfortunately, no one in town was able to see me last minute before a holiday so I had a mini-treatment from an acupuncturist down the street and ended up treating myself with acupuncture at home once or twice. (I am a licensed acupuncturist - don’t try this at home if you’re not!) I would have gone to get acupuncture twice per day every day if I could have!
I drank juice. Not the kind you buy at the store in the bottle. I got a special blend freshly pressed juice with pineapple (which can kill the shingles virus), orange juice, celery, ginger, and turmeric. It was pretty spicy so I would drink a double shot of it a few times per day.
I took homeopathics. These were great for pain relief. OK - it wasn’t like the pain went away, but I could relax a lot more easily. I took one for the rash and another for the nerve pain. I took them any time I remembered them (which was pretty frequent, especially at night). If you have shingles, you’ll need to figure out which ones are right for your specific case.
I used a paste. My husband put baking soda and organic corn starch in organic coconut oil to make a paste. I used it a couple times but I wanted to make sure it didn’t get in my baby’s mouth so I only used a little, and not very often,
I took a little L-Lycine. I was told to have a pretty big dose of this, but I tend to prefer getting this sort of thing from food and was a little wary of it coming in pill form. I didn’t take the suggested dose, but I took a little every day.
I continued my prenatals. I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat well on those days I was home alone with my baby. There’s only so much one can do when experiencing shingles-level discomfort. But a breastfeeding mama’s gotta keep up her nutrient supply so down the prenatals went. When my husband was home, I was well-fed.
I used salt and water. Hot showers were helpful. I had a Himalayan Crystal Salt Bar* so I would pat the residue from that onto the affected area let it sit a bit and then rinse it off in the hot water. I also filled a sock with epsom salts* and put that on the rash. I don’t know if it was the pressure or the salt drawing out toxins from my skin, but the salt sock was relieving.
Aside from that, I toughed it out. I held my baby’s hands while breastfeeding so I wouldn’t get touched and I got as much rest as I could. There were nights that I curled up in a ball and rocked myself holding a pillow while I waited for the homeopathics to take the edge off, but I got through it. And I recovered perfectly. I do have a couple of pox scars on my chest, but they will fade as time goes by. In the meantime, they serve as reminders about what a bad-ass mommy I am!
Do you have a nursling and shingles? If I can get through it, so can you!
Any words of wisdom to share on the topic of shingles? Share them below!
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