What is mastitis? Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue, a condition that usually occurs when a woman breastfeeds. For a mom with a newborn baby, mastitis can make a challenging time even more complicated. Knowing the causes, the signs, the proper treatment, and prevention can help new mothers prevent mastitis and take better care of their exhausted bodies.
What is Mastitis and a Lot More You Need to Know
In this article:
- Mastitis Signs and Symptoms
- Causes of Mastitis
- Can a Breast Infection Affect the Baby?
- Diagnosis and Treatment
- Who Is at High Risk?
Mastitis Signs and Symptoms
Typically, mastitis occurs in women who have recently given birth (within the last 6 to 12 weeks). Common mastitis symptoms and signs include:
- Tenderness in the breast
- Skin redness around the breast
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pain or burning in the breast tissue
Usually, mastitis affects only one breast, but some patients may experience mastitis in both breasts. When the milk duct becomes infected, the breast will become red and warm. Many patients experience flu-like symptoms before noticing that their breasts are warm and tender.
Causes of Mastitis
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Cabbage boobs!!! So turns out I have mastitis which is about as fun as repeated kicks to the shin. When looking on the interwebs for anything that would provide sweet sweet relief I had multiple recommendations to get cooling gel pads. They’re made of plastic, then individually wrapped IN plastic, then put in a box and then wrapped in plastic again. Nah uh. A little extra digging provided a much better option – cabbage leaves. I went to the closest supermarket and grabbed these leaves out of the “leaf bin”: so they were free, diverted from landfill and good lord did they bring relief to this mums mammaries. It was also pretty damn hilarious when I forgot they were there and the doctor went to examine me to be confronted with a chest full of salad 😆.
There are many reasons why women get mastitis. The main cause usually goes back to the breastfeeding technique. If the baby doesn’t latch properly or leaves some milk in the breast after feeding, the mother may be vulnerable to mastitis. Favoring one breast over the other during breastfeeding may be a cause, too. If the woman is pumping rather than breastfeeding, irregular pumping schedules can lead to breast infection.
Further, cracks or injury to a mother’s nipple opens the gateway to infection. Bacteria will easily enter the crack and travel up the milk duct. Before you know it, you’re suffering from a breast infection.
Can a Breast Infection Affect the Baby?
The antibacterial properties of breast milk protect the baby from the infection. In fact, mothers are highly encouraged to breastfeed their baby throughout the infection, as the breast milk helps heal the nipple. However, some moms can’t take the pain and opt to stop breastfeeding early because of mastitis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
— RUFF BINTA (@Ruffbinta) February 18, 2018
For first-time cases of mastitis, women usually go to the doctor for a diagnosis. Some women who have previously experienced mastitis can call their doctors to refill their prescriptions.
Women who aren’t breastfeeding can clear up their infection with antibiotics. Women who are breastfeeding cannot take antibiotics, so they must take care of their problem naturally. For mastitis home treatment, get lots of rest and drink fluids. Many find that it helps to wear loose bras.
Women who are breastfeeding their babies must be sure to feed their children frequently and empty the breast as much as possible during feedings. For some women, the doctor may recommend ibuprofen to manage the pain and reduce the fever.
For many women, mastitis is easier to prevent than it is to cure. Some ways to prevent mastitis include:
- Wear loose-fitting bras
- Pump on a regular schedule
- Empty the breasts every time the baby feeds
- Use different positions to breastfeed
Mothers can also prevent this problem by contacting a lactation specialist. Lactation specialists help new mothers discover ways to hold their baby during the breastfeeding process. A lactation specialist can also work with the baby to ensure that he or she is latching on properly.
It’s also important to use baby-safe creams or oils to prevent the nipples from becoming chapped. Women with chapped, damaged, or injured nipples are more likely to experience mastitis than women who do not have this problem.
Who Is at High Risk?
Kristen Bell shares how hubby Dax Shepard “nursed” her mastitis away. Literally. https://t.co/3TPjj1TFRt
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) February 5, 2018
Women who have given birth in the last 6 to 12 weeks and those who are breastfeeding their babies are at high risk of developing mastitis. This is especially true of women who have just had their first babies. Once a woman has had at least one child, she’ll usually know which positions work best for her and her child. Women who smoke and women who wear nipple rings are also at risk for mastitis.
Destiny Austin shows us a video about the causes, symptoms, and prevention of mastitis:
The best thing a mother can do if she is at high risk for mastitis is to work with a lactation specialist. They’re not called specalists for nothing. These professionals know everything about breastfeeding, from the best ways to hold the baby to getting the perfect latch to making sure the baby is satisfied and the milk ducts are completely emptied. If in doubt, learn what mastitis is and everything about it from a lactation expert.
In your own experience, how long does mastitis last? Let us know in the comments section below.
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