Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue and will cause symptoms such as redness, tenderness, fever & flu like symptoms. These symptoms may come on unexpectedly & very rapidly.
Cracked &/or grazed nipples is the most common cause of infection. If you develop a red painful breast accompanied by fever, headache & body aching , this requires antibiotics from your Dr as soon as possible
Milk not being drained effectively from the breast can also cause mastitis. This may be due to things like feeding technique, blocked milk ducts or white spots or blebs on the nipple blocking drainage. Initially this may just cause redness & hardness. THIS IS THE TIME TO ACT. If you can stimulate the drainage quickly you may prevent the growth of bacteria & full blown Mastitis.
Things to try at home
You can encourage the breast with a blocked duct to drain by feeding effectively on that side first at the next feed.
Pay attention to get correct attachment throughout the feed. If it is painful after the first few seconds the baby has not attached well. Equally, if the pain comes on mid feed, don’t ignore it – the baby has lost the correct attachment. Take the baby off the breast (making sure you break the suction in the corner of their mouth gently with your little finger) & start again.
Wait until the baby is ready for a feed. A sleepy or baby who is not hungry will not effectively drain the breast & you are probably making the problem worse.
Do not keep offering the affected breast first or you risk the other breast also developing symptoms.
Handle the breasts as little as possible. Poking around in inflamed breast tissue can cause even more inflammation & swelling that will interfere with the milk flow. A good rule to follow is to gently examine before a feed & then after a feed to gauge if the lump is softer, smaller or less tender. Otherwise support the breast & leave them alone! Keep the pressure of any massage gentle (eg like stroking a cat) or use vibration (eg electric toothbrush) over the area for a minute before a feed.
Rest, plenty of fluids, cold packs & anti-inflammatories can help as well.
Ultrasound therapy is a gentle technique that will reduce inflammation & swelling to help the milk flow. It should be done as quickly as possible if you have tried everything above without relief. Genesis will almost always fit you in for treatment on the day you ring.
If your nipples are grazed then low intensity laser will help them to heal. It is not like cosmetic Laser – it is pain free. Again the sooner started, the less likely bacteria will enter the breast.
The golden Rule for breast problems is to ACT QUICKLY.