Mastitis refers to the inflammation of the breast. It can either come with an infection or not. It leads to swollen, sore and red breasts and usually affects some breastfeeding moms. In women who breastfeed, there are two primary causes of mastitis:
- Clogged Milk Duct: When milk isn’t removed frequently or efficiently enough from the breast, the channel through which milk flows may become so overwhelmed that milk builds up and is unable to flow out of the breast. This causes tender lumps which, if not cleared within a few years, may result in developing classic mastitis symptoms. This leads to red blotches, high temperature, chills and aches.
- Infection: Mastitis may also occur when bacteria creeps into the milk duct. A crack on the nipple from a poor latch, or poor pumping, can allow bacteria to get inside the breast and lead to infection. This may also lead to an inflammation and cause redness and pain.
Symptoms of Mastitis
Although mastitis most commonly occurs in the first three months after giving birth, symptoms can be experienced even after that. These are some symptoms that you should watch out for:
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Presence of one or more lumps in the breast
- Breast pain or burning either during breastfeeding or even without
- Red skin
- Flu-like symptoms, such as chills or fatigue
- High fever
When occurring without an infection, mastitis is localized to a clogged milk duct. Both can present with redness, pain and swelling, but symptoms in mastitis are generally more severe.
Breastfeeding Tips when you have Mastitis
Breastfeeding through the pain is not only an effective mastitis treatment, it also helps keep your milk supply up. In most cases, mastitis does not cause problems in the quality of milk and babies can drink it. Medications are safe to take while nursing and your doctors will provide you the appropriate treatment. Here are some breastfeeding tips while you wait to recover from mastitis:
- Offer Sore Breast First: Your baby is hungriest at the start of your nursing session. Therefore, always begin with the painful breast. Massage, pump or hand-express your breast first to help milk flow more easily for your baby.
- Check your Latch: Pay attention to getting an effective latch and let the baby determine feeding time, instead of the clock. Ensure that your baby is actively drinking for most of the time you’re nursing. If he’s not, then you may need to correct the latch. Speak to lactation experts at KIMS Cuddles to establish proper positioning of the baby while breastfeeding.
- Breastfeed Often: Milk production is a continuous process and it needs to be frequently removed to decrease the pressure on your breast. Aim to breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry or every two hours. Let your baby nurse as long as needed. If you can’t breastfeed, try pumping your breast often to make sure the supply is taken care of.
- Change Positions: Switch your nursing position often to help empty your breasts completely of breast milk. For example, try a cradle hold for one breast and side-lying position for the other.
When you have mastitis, remember to get enough rest, sleep well, drink enough water and wear light, loose-fitting clothes. To know more about how to get relief from mastitis, see our experts at KIMS Cuddles.
*Information shared here is for general purpose Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.