Breastfeeding is not always all snuggles and full bellies – sometimes, there are difficulties and complications. Mastitis is one of the possible complications of breastfeeding. Mastitis occurs in about 2-10% of breastfeeding women but is no cause for alarm. If you have mastitis, you are not alone! Let’s go over what mastitis is, how to manage mastitis, and how to prevent mastitis!
What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is inflammation of the breast, most commonly referred to as an infection of the breast. Symptoms of mastitis include the following:
- Breast pain
- Body aches
It’s important to note that mastitis can happen at any point during your breastfeeding journey, but most of the time, mastitis occurs during the 6 weeks after you deliver your baby.
What Causes Mastitis?
The following problems can cause mastitis:
- Oversupply of breastmilk
- Damaged nipples
- Infrequent feedings
- Rapid weaning
- Shallow latch
- Illness in baby or mom
- Plugged milk duct
- Pressure on the breast (tight bra and/or clothing or seatbelt)
Many of these problems are caused by breast engorgement for too long or ineffective milk removal.
I want to take a moment and remind you that getting mastitis is perfectly normal – you didn’t do anything wrong if you get mastitis. There are great ways to manage your pain, heal your body, and prevent mastitis from happening in the future.
How to Manage Mastitis Pain
You might have mastitis if you have a fever over 101 ̊F, your breasts are firm, red, and tender, and if you have muscle aches and pains similar to flu-symptoms.
Please see your doctor immediately if you start showing these symptoms. They can provide a specific treatment plan for you. Most often, this will include treatment with an antibiotic.
At-home remedies for mastitis are available! You can take mild pain relievers such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen after consulting your doctor.
The most important thing to do to manage mastitis pain is to keep breastfeeding and help your breasts drain the breastmilk properly. Apply a hot compress and do breast massage before breastfeeding or pumping. You can then apply cold compresses after feeding or pumping to reduce inflammation. Be sure to consult with a lactation consultant if you feel your feeding techniques need more attention.
How to Prevent Mastitis
Studies have shown that taking a probiotic during the late stages of pregnancy may lower the chance of getting mastitis. Another simple way to prevent mastitis is to work on your breastfeeding technique to drain your breastmilk each feeding session. Contact an IBCLC for an assessment of your mastitis. They can help you discover your mastitis cause, give ideas of things to fix those problems, and work with you and your healthcare provider to help you recover quickly from mastitis.
Schedule an Online Consultation
If you’re concerned about mastitis, sign up for an online consultation with me. I can help you 1:1 go over breastfeeding techniques that will help you prevent mastitis pain.
As an RN, an IBCLC, and a mama of 3, I’ve been where you are. I’ll be your new “breast” friend!