Many mums experience mastitis while breastfeeding and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms as well as the ways of treating mastitis. Here we have provided a helpful guide…
What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is caused by engorgement of the breast due to several reasons – infrequent feeding, poor breast emptying; blocked duct, breast trauma or infection can all be contributing factors.
You can get inflammatory mastitis or infective mastitis. The latter occurs if an infection tracks from a cracked nipple along the ductal system or as a secondary complication following inflammatory mastitis.
What are the signs?
Mums will often present with flu like symptoms such as tiredness, a fever and aching limbs. She may see a localised red lump that is sore and tender or that the breast is red, inflamed, hot and throbbing.
Dealing with Mastitis:
Keep on breastfeeding -You may feel ill and not feel like feeding but continuing to breastfeed means that you are on the road to getting better quicker.
- Increase feeding frequency to drain the breast fully or alternatively use a breastpump to help if baby is unable to feed
- Feed 2-3 hourly and start with the affected breast first to ensure that the breast is well drained
- Ensure that baby is latched on well – a good latch can make a big difference so consult your midwife/health visitor or breastfeeding supporter for more help if you are unsure
- Try different feeding positions
- If you have a sore and cracked nipple – again get advice to see if your baby has difficulty with latching on correctly
- If you have a blocked duct massage the affected area towards the nipple, use a wide toothed comb to brush over the affected area
- Warm compress or warm showers can soothe – massage the area
- Check your clothing to make sure that you don’t have a pressure point that is contributing to the tissue trauma
- Take pain relief – as directed by your medical history, consult a pharmacist for more guidance
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids, eat small snacks. You may not feel like eating but it is important to eat a little
- If you don’t see improvement within 12 hrs with self-help measures make an appointment with your GP as you may need antibiotics
Remember most antibiotics are safe to use with breastfeeding
Finally, do not stop breastfeeding as this can make the Mastitis worse – keep on feeding.