Weaning is a natural, inevitable stage in your child's development. Even so, it's not uncommon to experience mixed emotions and physical changes during this time. While there's new-found freedom, there's also some sadness of the passing of this intimate part of life. While weaning usually happens without a problem, sometimes complications like mastitis can occur.
Mastitis is a very common condition; between 3% and 20% of breastfeeding mothers develop mastitis. We understand it's an uncomfortable condition, but luckily it's easily treatable. If you're one of the many breastfeeding mothers wondering how to get through this troublesome annoying illness then you've come to the right place.
With this article we'll help you understand mastitis and recognize its symptoms. Then we'll explain how it's sometimes happens as you stop breastfeeding,and give you tips for avoiding its development. Finally we'll discuss some natural at-home treatments and medical treatments for mastitis.
Mastitis is usually clinically defined as “a tender, hot, swollen, wedge-shaped area of breast associated with temperature of 38.5C (101.3F) or greater, chills, flu-like aching, and systemic illness...Redness, pain, and heat may all be present when an area of the breast is engorged or ‘‘blocked’’/‘‘plugged,’’ but an infection is not necessarily present.”
Mastitis can easily be defined as spontaneous inflammation of the breast tissue though our discussion will focus on mastitis as it presents in breastfeeding women.
Noticing mastitis includes the following symptoms:
Mastitis is generally avoidable and not serious. Women who are breastfeeding are more susceptible to developing it. There are several breastfeeding behaviors that can contribute to the development of mastitis.
Abrupt weaning contributes to mastitis because ducts can become painfully engorged.
A shallow latch or poorly fitted nipple shield are also risk factors. Engorgement or blocked ducts can occur when a baby is not properly emptying a breast.
Tight clothing such as a bra, or even the straps of a heavy bag, pressing on the glandular tissue in the breast could interfere with milk flow.
Infrequent emptying of the breast due to separation from the mother, or who I'd feeding less due to illness.
In general, good habits such as the following prevent mastitis:
Your body makes breast milk as it's needed. Milk released by baby or by pump is quickly replaced until the breast is full again. When the best is full, a message is sent to the body saying to slow production.
We know that abruptly weaning can cause mastitis, but it is possible to gradually decrease production. Use these following tips to down-regulate milk production which will in turn help you so breastfeeding without getting mastitis.
Lengthen the time between feedings and/or pumping sessions over time.
Decrease the amount of milk released with each session. Express just enough milk to feel comfortable. Leaving your breasts overly full during this process could put you at risk of mastitis.
Stop breastfeeding slowly over several weeks to allow them naturally adjust.
Even while you have mastitis, you still need to empty your breasts. If breastfeeding you will need to hand express or pump. Mastitis will become worse if you stop expressing milk.
Moderate warmth helps trigger milk letdown and gives pain relief. The warmth also helps get milk flowing. Moist heat such as a shower out wet compress is most effective.
Gentle massage works much in the same way as warmth in that it relieves pain and helps get milk flowing. Warmth and massage are often combined.
Cold compresses are also often effective for swelling and tenderness.
Although pregnant and lactating women are limited as to what medications they can take, there are pharmacological options available when necessary. Of course, speak to your doctor before taking any medication or supplement.
If symptoms are mild then over-the-counter remedies may be helpful. Anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen, and analgesics such acetaminophen can be used to help mom feel more comfortable. Aspirin should definitely be avoided.
If symptoms may longer than 24 hours, get worse, or conservative treatments don't work then you should see a doctor. He/she will do a full assessment and prescribe antibiotics or other pain relievers. Common antibiotics include dicloxacillin or fucloxacillin, and cephalexin.
Mastitis is a very common condition of breastfeeding mothers, though not a serious one. Most episodes clear up with conservative over-the-counter treatments. As long as you use good breastfeeding practices you should encounter very few problems.