Breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial way for a mother to nourish and bond with her baby. However, for some mothers, it can come with challenges such as mastitis. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in pain, swelling, redness, and sometimes fever. Mastitis usually occurs when bacteria enter the breast through a cracked or sore nipple. It can also occur when milk is not adequately drained from the breast, leading to a buildup of milk and subsequent infection.
Mastitis is more common in the early weeks of breastfeeding but can happen at any time. If suspecting that mastitis has developed, it is important to seek medical advice promptly. An OB/GYN may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection. In the meantime, there are several self-care measures that can be taken to relieve the symptoms and promote healing. First and foremost, continue breastfeeding or pumping milk to ensure proper drainage of the breast. This can be challenging when feeling pain, but it is vital to prevent further milk buildup and to maintain the milk supply. Try different breastfeeding positions to find one that is more comfortable for you. Applying warm compresses to the affected breast can help alleviate pain and promote milk flow. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can be taken to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
Infants are demanding, yet resting is crucial when dealing with mastitis. Try to get as much sleep as possible and avoid activities that may strain your breasts, such as wearing tight bras or carrying heavy bags. It is also important to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of bacteria. Wash hands thoroughly before touching breasts or baby’s mouth. Clean nipples with warm water and gentle soap, and air-dry them after each feeding or pumping session. In some cases, using a breast pump may be necessary to help empty each breast more effectively. This can be particularly helpful if baby is having difficulty latching.
Mastitis is a common and treatable condition. Learn more at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mastitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374829