Mastitis is a breast infection caused by an inflammation of the mammary gland due to milk not completely emptying from the breast. Bacteria can enter through cracked damaged nipples causing the infection to grow within the ductile system. Most women assume that if you have a breast infection, you can’ t breastfeed from the affected breast and that is NOT true! It is very important that you DO nurse off the infected breast. The milk will not be bad for your baby, and it is perfectly safe to feed. If you don’t empty the breast completely you risk further infection, and worse a breast abscess, and trust me you DON’T want that! So how do you know if you have a breast infection??? You may be experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Flu like symptoms: body aches, nausea, chills
- Fever of 101 For higher
- Red spots or patches anywhere on the breast. (BE SURE TO LOOK UNDER YOUR BREAST! That is a very common location for mastitis to be and can be missed. If you aren’t feeling well, check it out!)
- Have a hard sore lump that is tender to the touch
- Breasts seem hot to the touch and are swollen
- You see red streaks on the breast from the areola to the underarm
- Pus or blood in the milk
- Severe cracked nipples that are beginning to look infected
If you notice any of these warning signs, most important thing to do besides continuing to nurse, is to schedule an appointment with your physician. You will need to be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic that works best for breast infections such as mastitis is Dicloxacillin however there may be a better option specifically for you body.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with mastitis and has perscribed an antibiotic, be sure to take the medication as directed completing the entire 10-14 day course. The following steps will help in the healing process:
- Continue to feed your baby 8-12 times in a 24 hour period especially on the affected breast.
- Hand express or pump the affected breast is the baby does not thoroughly empty that side.
- Use alternate massage and breast compressions on the specified hard areas with your finger tips while baby is nursing and while pumping to allow the backed-up milk to drain completely.
- Use different positions at each feeding to drain all parts of the breast.
- If pain is inhibiting milk from letting down, place a cold compress on the infected breast to alleviate swelling, while nursing on the healthy breast. After the swelling has decreased, breastfeed from the affected breast.
- Rest, increase your vitamin C intake and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
- Talk to your doctor about taking Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and aid in the discomfort.
Talk to a Lactation Consultant about possible steps to take, such as lecithin supplements, to help reduce your chances of getting recurring mastitis or other breast infections again. With the proper precautions, you should be able to avoid this in the future.
Copyright© 2011 Danielle Gauss/ JustBreastFeeding.com. All Rights Reserved