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.