Q&A: breast dried up after possible mastitis

E writes:

"My son is 3 months old, I don't breastfeed him exclusively because of my low milk supply. However, I only give him about 120ml of formula a day and I breastfeed the rest.

My right breast has no milk now! Over the weekend I woke up and my breast was full and hurting, so I breastfed him from it and it stayed hurting me the whole day. Now its been 2 days, it doesn't fill up and when I pump barely comes out! 10oz maybe. Since I'm back to work, I pump at work and now I can't fill a whole bottle. What do I do?? Is it over for my right breast? I already have low milk supply, one breast won't be enough for him."

We've seen this before, unfortunately. I've heard lots of women report that after a bout with mastitis that side dried up. Usually mastitis would be more than just one day of "hurting" (when I had it it was hot and cold flashes, dizziness, shooting pain, and red marks on my breast all night and for about 6 hours after I started the antibiotics the next day) but E might have higher pain tolerance than I do, or her system may be more sensitive than mine is. If she already had low supply, just an inflamed duct could be enough to knock out her supply on that side.

Having heard so many stories from mothers (and from LCs) about trying to resurrect supply on a side that's dried up, I'm not sure anything E does will bring back her milk on that side. And many of us can't pump as much as we can give a baby when we're nursing, but E needs to pump, so not being able to get much from the other side is a problem for her.

I'd like to hear from anyone out there who kept nursing (and pumping) from one side, even knowing you didn't have a full enough supply to nurse exclusively. We all know that any breastmilk at all that E can give her baby is good for him, and that the nursing time she has with him when she's home is good for him, too. But when you're the only doing all the work for what feels like such a small amount, it can be hard to know it's worth it.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation? How did you keep knowing you were doing something good for your child? Words of encouragement for E?