Mastitis treatment


  • What Is Mastitis And How Do I Treat It?
  • 7 easy ways to treat mastitis
  • Plugged Ducts and Mastitis
  • Mastitis What is mastitis? Mastitis is usually the result of a blocked milk duct that hasn't cleared. Some of the milk banked up behind the blocked duct can be forced into nearby breast tissue, causing the tissue to become inflamed. The inflammation is called mastitis. Infection may or may not be present. If you think you have mastitis, see your doctor.

    What are the symptoms? Early symptoms of mastitis can make you feel as if you are getting the flu. You may begin to get shivers and aches. Some mothers who do not have any early signs of a blocked duct get mastitis 'out of the blue'. The breast will be sore like it is with a blocked duct, only worse. It is usually red and swollen, hot and painful. The skin may be shiny and there may be red streaks. You will feel ill. It is common for the ill feeling to come on very quickly.

    What can I do? Start treatment as soon as you feel a lump or sore spot in your breast. Drain the breast often, but gently. This is not the time to wean. More than anything else, your breasts need to be kept as empty as possible. Your baby's sucking is the best way to do this.

    The milk is quite safe for your baby to drink. Feed more often than usual, starting each feed on the sore breast. Let your baby suck long enough on this side to make sure that it is being drained well.

    However, take care not to let the other breast become too full, as it may cause a similar problem in that breast. When your let-down happens, you may notice tingling feelings in your breasts, a sudden feeling of fullness or milk leaking from your other breast. Make sure your baby is attached well and that you are relaxed and comfortable to help the let-down reflex work.

    There are ways of helping the breast to 'empty' or drain more easily: Ensure your baby is positioned and attached to your breast Make sure your bra is very loose or take it off.

    Relax while you feed to help your milk flow. Make a special effort to relax your arms, legs, back, shoulders and neck. Breathe deeply and evenly. Listen to soothing music and think about your baby to help start the let-down reflex.

    Changing feeding positions might help to clear the blockage. Gently massage the breast by stroking toward the nipple while your baby feeds. Hand express to 'empty' the breast if your baby won't suck. If you have mastitis, your milk may taste salty. This won't harm your baby, but may cause him to refuse the breast.

    Apply warmth and cold Using COLD packs on the affected breast can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Use WARMTH only sparingly and just before a feed for up to a few minutes can help trigger your let-down to help clear the blockage and may relieve pain. Some sources of warmth: Have a warm shower. Use a heat pack wheat packs that you heat in the microwave oven work well , well-covered hot water bottle, warm hand towel or a face washer wrung out in hot water.

    Rest, adequate fluids and nutrition It is important to get as much rest as possible as well as adequate fluids and nutrition when you have mastitis. Stay in bed if you can, or at least put your feet up for most of the day.

    If you do go to bed, take your baby, supplies for changing nappies and your own food and drinks with you, so you don't have to keep getting up. If you have other children, it may be better to lie down in your living area. Seek medical help See a doctor after a few hours if you don't start to feel better or straight away if you feel very unwell.

    If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure you finish the course. Some mothers may get a thrush infection after a course of antibiotics, so if you have had thrush in the past, discuss this with your doctor.

    When mastitis is not treated promptly, a breast abscess may form, although this is uncommon. Hand express if your breast feels full and your baby won't feed often Early treatment will mean you get better faster, you will feel less ill and you will be at less risk of a breast abscess. Prevention Ensure your baby is attaching well to your breasts and feeding well Breastfeed your baby as often as your baby wants to feed Avoid missing or putting off feeds If a breast becomes uncomfortably full, wake your baby for a feed.

    If your baby is not interested in feeding, you may like to express a small amount for comfort Avoid putting pressure on your breasts eg with clothing or with your fingers while feeding Rest as much as you can Alternate from which breast you begin each feed.

    This can help ensure at least one breast gets drained well at every second feed Avoid giving your baby any other fluids except your breastmilk, unless medically advised to Further resources Telephone counselling is available on the hour national ABA Breastfeeding Helpline on We also offer e mail counselling to our members.

    See the full range of benefits you get with ABA membership. The information in this website article has been taken from the ABA booklet Breastfeeding: breast and nipple care and does not replace advice from your health care providers.

    Breastfeeding: breast and nipple care Breastfeeding: Breast and Nipple Care tells you what to expect as your breasts change during pregnancy and briefly covers how breastfeeding works.

    Without her baby being able to sufficiently empty her breasts of milk, Giles often became engorged, which led to her getting mastitis, an inflammation of the breast.

    She suffered through it three times before Rowan was six months old. I had a fever, chills, body aches, and was just plain exhausted. Massage If you feel a hard spot in your breast, begin massaging it immediately, preferably while nursing. This little spot is likely a plugged duct, which is more easily cleared before the breast becomes too engorged and tender, explains Tracy Hydeman, a midwife in Regina, Sask.

    That said, even if you are engorged and in a lot of pain, massage is key to clearing the clogged milk. A warm compress Placing heat on the engorged breast will help soften the blockage and encourage the milk to flow.

    Repeat this when it cools to keep it hot. A shower or bath Getting into the shower or tub can be an ideal way to soften your breasts, says Hydeman. Giles would take a warm bath, and hand-express milk. Plus you have an excuse to take lots of baths! Nursing or expressing Ultimately, you need to get the milk out of your breast to start feeling better.

    So nurse your baby as much as you can, ensuring she has a proper latch. Lussier says nursing in different positions also helped. Some women use a hand pump or electric pump to clear the milk ducts. Hydeman tells women not to be surprised if the milk looks a little funny. Treating damaged nipples If your nipples are sore and cracking from a bad latch, treating the nipples with a lanolin cream or even just breastmilk will help them to heal and reduce the chance of infection.

    You may need to see a lactation consultant for help. However, she points out that addressing a poor latch or damaged nipples is what will ultimately prevent mastitis or keep it from returning. Homemade cures If your breasts are engorged, Hydeman suggests placing cabbage leaves over them.

    Some women also swear by raw, wet potato slices to reduce the inflammation—something Hydeman has never recommended, but she says it could be helpful if used in addition to other techniques to clear the blockage and get milk flowing.

    So when in doubt, see a doctor.

    Your baby's sucking is the best way to do this. The milk is quite safe for your baby to drink. Feed more often than usual, starting each feed on the sore breast. Let your baby suck long enough on this side to make sure that it is being drained well. However, take care not to let the other breast become too full, as it may cause a similar problem in that breast. When your let-down happens, you may notice tingling feelings in your breasts, a sudden feeling of fullness or milk leaking from your other breast.

    What Is Mastitis And How Do I Treat It?

    Make sure your baby is attached well and that you are relaxed and comfortable to help the let-down reflex work. There are ways of helping the breast to 'empty' or drain more easily: Ensure your baby is positioned and attached to your breast Make sure your bra is very loose or take it off. Relax while you feed to help your milk flow. Make a special effort to relax your arms, legs, back, shoulders and neck. Breathe deeply and evenly. Listen to soothing music and think about your baby to help start the let-down reflex.

    Changing feeding positions might help to clear the blockage. Gently massage the breast by stroking toward the nipple while your baby feeds. Hand express to 'empty' the breast if your baby won't suck. If you have mastitis, your milk may taste salty. This won't harm your baby, but may cause him to refuse the breast.

    Apply warmth and cold Using COLD packs on the affected breast can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.

    7 easy ways to treat mastitis

    Use WARMTH only sparingly and just before a feed for up to a few minutes can help trigger your let-down to help clear the blockage and may relieve pain. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medicine safe for women to take after they give birth and while nursing.

    If prescribed antibiotics, take all of the medicine. Mastitis may come back, so be sure to finish your medication even after your symptoms improve.

    While most women with mastitis can successfully be treated on an outpatient basis with the methods mentioned above, hospital admission may be required if: You show signs of sepsis.

    Your infection progresses rapidly. You have an underlying mass or breast cancer is suspected. A breast abscess is suspected. Unless otherwise indicated, the patient should be encouraged to either continue breastfeeding her baby or to express her milk.

    You may need medicine. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. You should start to feel better a few days after starting the antibiotics. But make sure you take all the antibiotics your doctor prescribes to prevent antibiotic resistance. Over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen brand name: Tylenol or ibuprofen brand name: Advil can help relieve pain. Warm showers can also help relieve the pain. Although it may be painful, it is important to keep breastfeeding when you have mastitis.

    Your breast milk will not be bad for your baby, even if you have mastitis, although some infants may not like the taste. If you stop breastfeeding, germs can spread in the milk that is left in your breast. This could make your infection worse. If you cannot nurse your baby, you should pump your breasts to remove the milk. Getting enough rest and drinking extra fluids can help you feel better faster. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms get worse.

    Plugged Ducts and Mastitis

    This could form a mass in your breast. Abscesses are usually painful. They normally have to be drained surgically. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the following symptoms: Infection in both breasts Pus or blood in your breastmilk Red streaks near the affected area Symptoms came on severely and suddenly A painful lump that might be an abscess To prevent these types of complications, call your doctor when you first notice symptoms of mastitis.


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