There is so much beauty to behold when you have a new baby. Many moments to treasure, to snap pictures of and enjoy forever.
A mastitis diagnosis is not one of these.
Everything about mastitis is painful. Even the word itself sounds painful. Educating yourself on what mastitis is, how it happens, and how to prevent it might help you avoid that pain entirely. And if you can’t avoid it, go to the doctor – and check out tips below on how to soothe those sore breasts.
What is mastitis?
Mastitis is inflammation of the breast that may or may not involve an infection. Mastitis most often happens in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, but it can show up anytime – often only impacting one breast.
If left untreated, mastitis can develop into a serious infection – so see your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms.
Symptoms of Mastitis
- Flu-like symptoms
- Breast tenderness or warmth to the touch
- Breast swelling
- Breast redness often in a wedge-shape
What causes mastitis?
There are a few ways mastitis can set in. We’ve listed them below and provided ways to help you avoid complications. If you think you have any of these symptoms, please see your lactation specialist or doctor immediately.
A few days after giving birth, your breasts may become larger and heavier. That’s normal. What isn’t normal is breasts that feel hard, lumpy, uncomfortably full and enlarged, accompanied with pain and throbbing. That could be breast engorgement, which left untreated could lead to mastitis.
Help avoid engorgement by nursing frequently, starting within two hours after birth. After the first day, breastfeed at a rate of 8 – 12 times a day. If you bottle feed, pump often and completely.
Leftover Milk in Breasts
Leftovers in the fridge are fine. Leftovers in your breasts are not. Pump and breastfeed to completion to remove all leftover milk in your breasts or you could experience issues like engorgement and blocked milk ducts. One trick to removing milk is to pump immediately after breastfeeding, especially if baby only feeds from one breast. Another is to self-massage as you are pumping or breastfeeding.
Clogged Milk Ducts
When your body is making milk faster than you can express, it can back up in your milk ducts. If you have a sore lump that’s hard and small, along with some redness or a hot sensation that feels better after nursing, you may be experiencing blocked milk ducts. The blockage can eventually lead to mastitis.
Help prevent plugged milk ducts by avoiding underwire bras or tight-fitting tops that can compress your breasts. Alleviate blocked milk ducts by continuing to nurse, varying your nursing position, massaging the sore spot, and generally getting rest and hydration.
Cracked nipples can result in mastitis and an infection because bacteria are able to enter the breast tissue. Several things can cause cracked nipples, including improper latch, a yeast infection, a breastfeeding baby with thrush (yeast infection of the mouth), severe dry skin, eczema, or a tongue-tied baby.
To prevent cracked nipples, consider gently cleaning with water and non-antibacterial, perfume-free soap after feedings. Try rubbing medical-grade lanolin after feedings, and if it’s just too painful, stop breastfeeding and turn to the pump to let your nipples heal. Of course, consult a doctor if you notice symptoms of cracked nipples – or symptoms of any of the above conditions.
How do you treat and manage mastitis?
If you think you might have mastitis – go to the doctor. You will need to confirm the diagnosis and may need antibiotics. Breastfeeding or pumping should continue during and after treatment.
Management of mastitis symptoms consists of:
- Rest and nurse or pump often
- Pump if you feel your breasts begin to overfill before breastfeeding
- Drink a lot of fluids to stay well-hydrated
- Wear a supportive but well-fitting bra to provide support relief
- If nursing is too painful, try pumping or hand-expressing
Prevention and Treatment of Mastitis and Mastitis-Causing Ailments Using Moist Heat or Cooling
Pre-cursers to mastitis, like clogged ducts, engorgement and sore nipples, – and even mastitis where antibiotics are not needed – are managed with home relief remedies. Up until recently, moms have done all kinds of things to prevent and relieve mastitis and mastitis-causing ailments. Some of them aren’t so pretty, let alone practical.
Many moms find that warm wet compresses are helpful in relieving clogged ducts, engorgement, soothing sore breasts and nipples, and improving milk flow. And the science agrees. Moist heat is proven to increase milk supply and flow, so it’s often one of the most recommended treatments by doctors and lactation specialists. It’s also proven to prevent some of these conditions.
But no one has time for eight hot showers a day or the ability to walk around shirtless holding warm wet washcloths in place. So, what’s the solution? Rachel’s Remedy Natural Breast Relief Packs.
Rachel’s Remedy is the only natural, wearable, and waterproof moist-heat and cooling treatment for seriously soothing relief. Pop a pair in the freezer and heat the other for a moist-heat or cooling solution and prevention of painful mastitis symptoms or mastitis-causing ailments.
The best part about Rachel’s Remedy Natural Breast Relief Packs? No will know you’re wearing them, at home or on the go. That’s because the waterproof pouch helps keeps clothes dry without being intrusive or obvious – and they can be worn in any bra.
Mastitis and common breastfeeding conditions can cause serious pain, but you are one tough mom. Plus, now you have Rachel’s Remedy to make it better. So, grab your moist-heat breast packs, snuggle in with baby, and take this time to relax and get back to feeling like yourself. Contact us with any questions about how Rachel’s Remedy packs can help you!