Your breasts can get painful and inflamed due to clogged milk ducts or bacterial infection – this is referred to as mastitis. Once milk ducts are blocked, you could manifest flu-like symptoms like pain, redness, swelling, tenderness and fever. Further, a cracked nipple can aggravate symptoms as it allows bacteria to enter the breasts and cause infection.
How do you Prevent Mastitis?
- Exercise proper hygiene. You should practice good hygiene especially in handling your breasts. Wash your hands thoroughly before you breastfeed. Make sure that your breasts are wiped clean too to protect from infection and to ensure safety when nursing your newborn.
- Breastfeed your baby on regular intervals. To relieve engorgement, you should breastfeed frequently and express milk to avoid clogging of ducts that cause mastitis. Whenever your breast feels full, nurse your baby right away.
- Wear loose and comfortable underwear or clothing. Make sure that your bras are properly fitted and not too tight that it could restrict airflow.
- Veer away from nipple ointments or creams. The use of these nipple ointments can easily trigger bacterial infection.
- Refrain from sleeping on your stomach or on your side. It is best to sleep comfortably at your back or on the side as long as your breasts are not compressed which could trigger the onset of mastitis.
- Get lots of rest. While being a mom to a newborn could be chaotic – keep your sanity by accepting help from your partner or family members and get enough rest.
How do you Deal with Mastitis?
Suffering from mastitis can be stressful and debilitating for both you and your newborn. The discomfort and pain that it causes can affect your nursing behavior. Here are the ways to effectively deal with mastitis:
- Taking a warm shower or bath. This can effectively help alleviate the pain and discomfort during engorgement of breasts. This will also help you relax and de-stress after a long busy day.
- Apply warm compress before feeding. This will help ease the pain and inflammation before starting with nursing your newborn.
- Massage the affected breasts gently. This will help ease engorgement.
- Apply cold packs after feeding. This will help soothe your breasts.
- Offer the affected breast first for feeding. It is recommended to relieve engorgement from affected breast before shifting to the other breast for feeding.
- Make sure to change feeding positions. This will get you and your baby comfortable while breastfeeding and express milk whenever necessary.
- Feed right away. Make sure that your baby feeds whenever hungry which could also help express breastmilk and relieve engorgement of breasts in the process.
- Don’t wean. Breast abscess usually result from weaning. Continuous breastfeeding will help you prevent potential complications and treat mastitis as well as breast infections right away.
- Increase fluid intake. Make sure that you are properly hydrated especially in between feedings.
It is recommended to seek your physician’s expert advice on handling mastitis. Your doctor could prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to help ease the pain, fever, swelling, redness, and tenderness associated with mastitis. Get help from your lactation consultant to know your viable options for breastfeeding and how you could effectively remedy mastitis.