Mastitis is when tissue in your breast becomes painfully inflamed. It usually affects one breast at a time, and the area may be red, sore, painful to the touch, or unusually warm. Swelling may or may not be caused by an infection, but it could be one of the symptoms as well.
Signs that you may have an infection are chills all over , aching muscles and/or joints, a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and fatigue. Basically you feel as if you are getting the flu.
What causes mastitis?
Mastitis, may be caused by milk staying in the breast mammary duct for an extended period of time which is called "milk stasis", other known names are “engorgement”, or “plugged milk ducts”. A breast infection may be caused by any of these as well as having cracked or damaged nipples, which allow germs to enter the breast and cause an infection. When milk plugs the duct it becomes rancid and allows bacteria to grow creating an infection.
Stress, fatigue, and being a first-time mom can increase your risk of mastitis. It can occur at any time while you're breastfeeding, but it's most common in the first month after you have your baby.
Wearing bra’s, sports bras, or tank tops that are fitted tightly around the breast, not allowing ample room for the breast to relax comfortably, can also be a cause. The breast becomes squashed and that puts pressure on the ducts causing milk to clog up. Though this is not necessarily the exact cause, it is a known factor that can lead to ducts being clogged and if continued lead to mastitis.
Breastfeeding moms should try not to sleep face down on their breast as well. This also can be a contributing factor that leads to mastitis.
Dehydration (from not drinking enough water, not juice or sodas) plays a big role on clogged mammary ducts. If you are not drinking enough water for your body to function, you feel stiff and warn down; slow moving, well the same thing happens to your breast milk. Milk can become concentrated making it hard to empty out of the breast during a feeding. Another lead not an actual cause.
Should I stop nursing if I have mastitis?
No. In fact, it's important that you continue nursing through the inflammation. Although nursing may be extremely painful at times, you need to let your baby feed frequently to keep your milk supply flowing and avoid further blockage. Try applying warm compresses and gently massaging your breast for several minutes before each feeding. This should help stimulate your letdown reflex and make nursing more tolerable. If your baby doesn't empty the inflamed breast during each feeding, finish the job yourself by pumping; if you find that nursing is unbearable, try pumping your breasts and giving the milk to your baby in a bottle. If you are wondering if Mastitis will harm your baby? The answer to that is "No". Though it can reduce the milk supply in the affected breast.
Side Note: If your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, save the milk from the breast with mastitis for later use at home. Mastitis can increase the sodium (salt) content in the milk, so most providers avoid giving this milk to an infant in the intensive care nursery. The milk isn't harmful if given later, however.
How can I treat mastitis naturally?
Treating Mastitis Naturally can be trial and error for some, or an instant remedy that works perfectly for others. Once you find what works for you it becomes much easier if you happen to experience this uncomfortable condition again. For the most part something is better than doing nothing, and there are a lot of somethings you can try.
· *Applying moist heated towel a few times a day is a definite To Do! (Do Not place an extremely hot towel on your sensitive breast – you want it heated enough but comfortable) As the heat diminishes allow that time to rest as the blood flow within the breast normalizes again.
· Take a hot shower and allow the hot water to spray upon the breast, the penetration of the water helps to stimulate release of the obstruction and it also feels soothing to the breast.
· Applying a cold compress (if comfortable) may also relieve the pain you may be feeling. (please remember to wrap the cold pack in a light towel or rag, DO Not Place it directly on your skin)
· *Nursing your baby frequently to keep the affected breast empty is another To Do! (This may also help to work the infection more quickly out of the breast.)
· *Massaging coconut oil or any vegetable base oil you may have on the inflicted breast. When doing this method remember to massage gently starting under your arm and work down towards the nipple. You want the infections to go out, not to go back in. I recommend “Coconut Oil” because it has antibacterial properties and is wonderful at pulling toxins out of the body.
· *Supplements definitely will help you to boost your immune system to fight the infection. This is first and for most your priority. I can’t stress this enough, Do Not Just Treat Symptoms – Treat The Origin Of The Problem. If you concentrate on this as priority then trust me when I tell you within 12 – 24 hours you’ll feel much better.
· Vitamin C - 2000mg a day
· Lysine and Echinacea both act as immune-system boosters. Some multi-nutrient formulas, combine lysine, Vitamin C, Echinacea and Garlic for increased benefits. Use as directed.
CAUTION: Do not take anything with Echinacea if you are allergic to plants from the daisy family
· Colloidal Silver – 1 teaspoon 3x’s a day for 5 days
· *Home Remedies are perfect for conditions like this one, especially when the last thing you want to do is have to spend hours in a doctor’s office or emergency room with a nursing baby, having to pay a copay or for the entire visit - just to get an antibiotic…
· Herbal teas: Depending on where you live plays a part in what teas are available to you. You want to buy teas that have herbs that will boost your immune system, just like the supplements.
· You can take ibuprofen to ease the pain if it is too much for you to handle or Tylenol if you experience a fever. Please follow the instructions on dosage on the package. Remember what goes in you goes in baby.
If your symptoms don't improve within 24 hours of trying these measures, see your healthcare provider. She may prescribe antibiotics, rest, and pain relievers in addition to hot compresses.
* ”To Do” meaning make sure you definitely do this technique habitually, until the mastitis is no longer an issue. You can also do these techniques even when you do not have a clogged duct. It’s a way of assuring and maintaining healthy breast feeding practices during your whole breast feeding journey.
How long will mastitis last?
If you have an infection and it's diagnosed early, it's easy and quick to treat. You should start feeling improvement within 48 hours. So start your remedies or start taking your antibiotics and it won't be long before you feel 100 percent better. Be sure to take all of the prescribed antibiotics or finish the full remedy routine to keep the infection from returning a few days or weeks later.
If your breast remains tender and you still have a fever after a day or two, call your healthcare provider without delay. Ignoring mastitis can cause complications. An untreated infection can lead to breast abscesses, which require antibiotics and surgery (usually under general anesthesia) to drain the abscess.
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