Mastitis is a painful inflammation of the breast tissue. Although it can affect any woman of adult age, it is most common among new mothers, with an estimated ten percent of breastfeeding mothers suffering from the condition breastfeeding mastitis. This typically occurs within the first twelve weeks, and is often referred to as lactation mastitis by medical professionals.
Generally, mastitis is not considered serious because it is easily treated. However, if a woman avoids or delays treatment, there is a risk of a breast abscess developing. This will need to be surgically removed, and around ten percent of sufferers will lose the ability to breastfeed. Consequently, it is important to educate yourself on the signs of mastitis so that you can seek medical assistance quickly, if it becomes necessary.
Symptoms Of Mastitis
The onset of lactation mastitis is typically quick. Although a minority of women find that both breasts are affected, it is more usual for the symptoms of mastitis to develop on just one side. The symptoms of lactation mastitis may include some, or all, of the following:
* An unusual discharge from the nipple, which may be streaked with blood.
*Lactation Mastitis may include burning sensation while breastfeeding.
* A swelling of the breast tissue, with the affected area feeling sore and hot to the touch.
* A noticeable lump or mass under the skin.
Since mastitis is an infection, for some women signs of Mastitis may appear to be flu like symptoms. This includes a fever, lethargy and chills.
Mastitis and Breastfeeding, Why Does Mastitis Develop?
Mastitis can develop when bacteria enters the body through a cracked nipple. However, when the condition is related to lactation it is more likely that when you have Mastitis and Breastfeeding, it is a result of an accumulation of milk, which then becomes infected.
Tip: A build up of milk, known as “milk stasis”, is more likely if the infant has been having problems feeding. This could be a problem with latching on, a weakened sucking reflex or infrequent feeds.
If your baby experiences any of these issues, and especially if you have any signs of Mastitis, it is important to seek medical advice for the sake of both the mother and the baby’s health, especially if you see you have milk stasis.
How To Treat Mastitis
The severity of the condition can vary. In mild cases, a doctor may be reluctant to prescribe medication. Instead, they will recommend the use of over the counter painkillers and will advise plenty of rest. They may also provide advice on improving your breastfeeding technique, to prevent the problem from worsening or re-occurring. In severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary.
You can try the breastfeeding therapy of using a nursing hot cold pack, which can encourage milk flow and help unclog a clogged milk duct.
Many women worry about the impact on their baby if they continue to breastfeed while they have mastitis. However, the infection is not harmful to the infant, and frequent feeds will help to reduce the milk stasis which is triggering the problem. You may also find that it helps to express in between feeds.
So the final thought is that although mastitis breastfeeding is not usually harmful in the long term, it can cause a lot of discomfort for breastfeeding mothers. Addressing the underlying cause and symptoms of mastitis quickly will ensure that the symptoms improve rapidly, and the problem does not reoccur.