Dealing with Mastitis

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For the last week I have been plagued with mastitis, if you’ve had to deal with this, you will know how painful it can be. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth, redness, headache, fever and chills. It occurs when the milk ducts in your breast are not emptied completely after nursing from an over-supply of milk, gaps in your feeding schedule or pressure on your breast which can cause a blockage. It can also be caused from bacteria entering through cracks in your nipple from a bad latch. Mastitis can come on very quickly and can cause a lot of discomfort. It’s the last thing an exhausted mama needs to deal with, and is enough to put you off breast feeding. This is the second time I’ve had mastitis, so I knew I had to treat it quickly, and persevere through the pain. I woke up one morning with one breast so full and red, with a golf ball size lump in it. Every time I fed Max I would cry because of the pain it caused. I had to get the milk flowing in my breast which had gone from a C cup to what felt like an F cup. If you’re dealing with mastitis, you can treat it and help it go away and if you press through it, you will be able to carry on with your breastfeeding journey.

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This is what I have found helped Nurse nurse nurse: As much as it hurts, it’s so important to keep nursing on the infected breast and feed from this breast first. The clog (or the infection) will not hurt the baby, so no need to worry. Try and drain the breast as much as possible, and use your hand to massage any lumps to get the milk out. I also used my electric pump and managed to get some milk out of my breast which I found helped drain it to take some of the pressure off.

Rest: This is so important to help your body heal. Mastitis is a major infection that can completely wipe you out. If you can sleep or lie in bed as much as you can so your body can fight the infection. The last thing you will probably want to be doing is running around because of the discomfort and pain.

Stay hydrated and eat to strengthen your immune system: When you’re sick it is easy to stop drinking water but you must stay well hydrated. Eat immune boosting foods that are rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, ginger, garlic and dark leafy green vegetables.

Hot compresses: Before and after nursing, heat up a warm cloth and place it on the infected breast/s for about 10 minutes. The warm heat will increase circulation and help move the infection out.

No underwire: The wire in bras can press on the breast ducts and exacerbate the problem. Wear no bra at all, a sports bra, nursing bra or a soft that that doesn’t have underwire.

Massage: During nursing or pumping, massage the breast towards the nipple using your hand, this will help to loosen the clogged ducts. I found having a shower and running warm water on my breast and massaging it, helped to get more milk out.

Nursing positions: It is important to drain the breast and get as much milk out of it as you can. When you’re feeding, try different feeding positions to increase breast drainage, and remember to sit up straight.

You can’t take care of your baby if you aren’t well so if fever and pain persists, call your doctor as you may require anti biotics to clear up the infection.

If you suspect you have mastitis or a clogged duct, don't hesitate to take action to treat it. Have you had mastitis before? I would love to hear any other tips on how you dealt with it.

L x