Mastitis - how to prevent and manage

Mastitis - how to prevent and manage

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue which can lead to an infection. Initial symptoms to look out for include; hard/firm lumps in the breast that are not resolving, redness on the skin, and pain/tenderness around the lumps. If mastitis is progressing without appropriate treatment and intervention, a fever with aches and lethargy may also occur. Mastitis can occur quite suddenly, so its important to know what to look for. 

Firstly, a common cause of mastitis is a sub-optimal latch and nipple damage, getting this assessed and supported with a local IBCLC is essential. Keep your milk supply well-matched with your baby’s needs. I caution against the use of milk catchers, particularly when your baby is feeding at the breast. These can easily stimulate an oversupply, which puts you at risk of inadequate milk draining and therefore mastitis. When your baby has a deep effective latch and your milk supply is well-matched to your baby's daily needs, you are less likely to experience mastitis. 

Rest, hydration, and using ice and anti-inflammatories as required for relief are the latest advice for treating mastitis. Avoid heat, deep massage and trying to ‘drain’ the milk with expressing or extra feeding. Your milk supply may reduce during the mastitis period, this is a natural reflection of your body mobilising its resources to heal the mastitis and will rebound with proper care and time. Probiotics and Therapeutic Ultrasound (TUS) can be supportive too. If symptoms are not resolving, or worsening after 12-24 hours, seek a GP with breastfeeding expertise for a medical assessment and possible antibiotics. 

Joelleen Winduss Paye, IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Midwife & Naturopath

JWP Holistic Lactation Consultant  @jwp.ibclc

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