Lactational mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that occurs during breastfeeding. This is a debilitating condition that can turn into a more serious problem if it is not detected early and timely treatment is not administered. Lactational mastitis occurs in as many as six out of ten women. While it usually occurs within the first three months of breastfeeding, it can set in at any time during the breastfeeding period.
The causes for lactational mastitis include cracked nipples, sore nipples, failure or the inability to latch on to the nipple properly, skipping or missing feeds, the use of non-absorbent breast pads, a previous history of mastitis, undetected and untreated yeast infections like thrush, and even tight bras.
The symptoms of lactational mastitis are standard and therefore are easy to identify.
The infected area of the breast becomes red (erythematous) and inflamed. On touching, the area feels warm or hot.
There is moderate to severe pain in the area.
The patient often runs a temperature of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
Patients suffering from lactational mastitis experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms include myalgia (muscle ache), body ache, headache, tiredness, and a general feeling of malaise.
One of the symptoms experienced by many patients and also a major cause for lactational mastitis, is a blocked duct. Here, one or more of the milk ducts are blocked.
Timely Treatment Of Breastfeeding Problems
In many cases, lactational mastitis occurs when other breastfeeding problems such as sore nipples, cracked nipples and blocked ducts, are ignored or not treated promptly when detected. If these breastfeeding problems are treated on time, lactational mastitis can be prevented. Other breastfeeding problems include yeast infections and nipple fissures.
Emptying The Breasts
When breastfeeding, it is necessary to empty out the breasts completely. If the baby stops feeding before the breast is empty, the milk needs to be manually expressed. Let the baby suckle on the first breast for as long as possible in order to completely empty it, before switching to the next breast. If the baby suckles only on one breast, start with the second breast the next time around.
With each feed, change the position of the baby during breastfeeding. This way, all the ducts are completely emptied out, thereby minimizing the chances of the ducts getting blocked.
Blocked ducts are one of the major causes of lactational mastitis and therefore this is a very important step in its prevention.
With each feed, make sure that the baby latches on to the nipple completely. An incomplete latch will lead to problems such as cracked nipples and sore nipples which may lead to mastitis, if left untreated.
Use Of Disinfectants
By using a disinfectant on her hands before breastfeeding, a new mother can prevent lactational mastitis from setting in.
Yeast infections such as thrush can be passed on to the mother from the baby’s mouth. Concurrently, a mother suffering from yeast infection can pass it on to her baby. Yeast infections can cause fissures which in turn can lead to mastitis. Hence, it is important to treat yeast infections with topical applications.
Common Breast Problems After Breastfeeding
3 Tips For Breast Care – Before and After Breastfeeding
Need And Methodology Of Natural Breast Implants
An Overview Of Breast Enlarging Creams To Make Breasts Bigger
Treatment Options For Breast Cancer
The single most important advice to cure lactational mastitis is to continue breastfeeding. It is necessary to empty out the breasts completely.
If the baby finishes feeding before the breast is empty, the milk should be manually expressed. This is to prevent further complications such as blocked ducts.
Using a proper technique during breastfeeding is necessary to make sure that the baby latches on to the nipple completely, which in turn enables proper suckling and drainage of the milk. If the baby does not latch on well, gently pry open the baby’s mouth by slipping a finger into the corner of his mouth until he lets go. Hold him in a proper position and guide the nipple into his mouth to enable him to latch on completely.
The use of pain medications will help to alleviate the pain. Any pain medication should be taken under the proper guidance of a doctor.
A course of antibiotics is most often necessary to treat mastitis. The treatment may be as long as two weeks. Many women feel relief within 48 hours of starting a course of antibiotics; however, it is very important to complete the entire course to make sure the infection does not recur.
Fluids And Rest
Drinking a lot of fluids and getting as much rest as possible is necessary for the mother. The fluids will help flush away all the antibiotic residue present in the body. Resting well will help reduce the feeling of malaise.