Mastitis causes women’s breast tissue to become painful and inflamed. It is common in women that are breastfeeding, with around one in ten mothers developing it in the first three months after giving birth. Having said this, women who aren’t breastfeeding can also get mastitis. Symptoms include painful and swollen breasts, as well as flu like symptoms such as a high temperature, aches and chills. Mastitis can either be infectious or non-infectious. The latter is usually caused by blocked milk ducts. In this article we will provide you with five ways you can prevent mastitis and five ways you can treat it effectively.
You will be pleased to know that it is relatively easy to treat mastitis effectively. Simply follow these tips and you should feel better in no time!
After you have given birth you will have plenty of people telling you to sleep when baby sleeps, and it is certainly good advice! You should make sure that you get plenty of rest if you are suffering from mastitis. It also helps to relax by taking a warm bath or shower. In order to relieve some of the pain in your breast you may want to consider placing a warm compress over it. If you have a blocked milk duct this should help to manoeuvre some of the liquid.
Massaging the breast during and after feeding can also help to treat mastitis. Although you may feel silly doing it, it will be worth it when you are free of the horrible pain!
3. Adjust Breastfeeding Technique
Treating mastitis may be as simple as adjusting your breastfeeding technique. Make sure that your baby is properly attached to your breast, with your nipple positioned all the way into your baby’s mouth. You may find that feeding your baby more frequently and expressing any remaining milk helps to combat mastitis. Although you may be in a lot of pain, it is recommended that you continue breastfeeding through mastitis as it can help to clear it up.
4. Taking Over-the-Counter Pain Killers
If you have non-infectious mastitis you can relieve the symptoms by taking pain killers which can be bought over-the-counter from your local pharmacy. Either paracetamol or ibuprofen is fine – just make sure that you avoid taking aspirin. Although a small amount of paracetamol may enter your breast milk, it will not be enough to harm your baby.
If you have infectious mastitis then you will need to see a doctor. They will be able to treat you using a combination of the techniques mentioned above as well as a course of antibiotics. Breastfeeding women will be prescribed with safe antibiotics that will not harm their baby, but may cause them to have looser stools.
Even if your mastitis treatment has been effective it is important to take precautions so that you do not suffer from it again.
1. Wash Your Hands
Although it sounds obvious, you will be surprised at how many people forget to wash their hands after changing their baby’s nappy! Make sure that you wash your hands and wipe them on a clean cloth before touching your breasts to feed your baby.
2. Feed Regularly
Try not to prolong the time between feeding your baby. Setting regular feeding intervals will help to make sure the flow of milk is constant. This will prevent your milk ducts from blocking in the future.
3. Wear Comfortable Bras and Loose Clothing
Avoid wearing anything tight fitting that will put pressure on your breasts. Whilst you are breastfeeding it is best to opt for comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.
4. Stop Using Nipple Pads and Creams
Avoiding nipple pads and creams can also help to reduce your chance of infection. If you do need to use them, make sure that you apply them with clean hands to prevent bacteria from spreading to your milk ducts.
5. Switch Feeding Sides Often
Making a point of switching the breast you start and finish nursing with will help to ensure your baby has an equal time on each. By doing this you will prevent excess milk from being left in your breasts, which is one of the main causes of blockages.
Visiting your GP
Although non-infectious mastitis can clear up on its own, it is always best to visit your GP to check that you do not have an infection. Whilst your GP cannot prescribe anything for non-infectious mastitis they may be able to recommend other solutions and help you to adjust your breastfeeding technique in order to prevent future problems.