Have you ever experienced mastitis?
It’s a situation where part of a woman’s breast becomes warm, very painful, and swollen because of inflammation.
Sometimes it’s associated with fever and chills and later develops into a collection of pus (an abscess) as the body tries to contain it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Mums who stop breastfeeding abruptly due to latching issues or weaning and later develop blocked ducts or engorgement are at risk of mastitis. Infected nipple cracks, sores, and smoking are also risk factors.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
How can mastitis be prevented?
1) Always drain your breasts of milk after each feed or express whenever your breasts are engorged.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
2) Avoid nipple cracks by ensuring that your baby has a good latch during breastfeeding ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3) Ensure you are using the right size of breast shield (flange) in your breast pump. The wrong flange can mar your pumping experience. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
4) If you do develop nipple cracks or blisters please keep them clean or seek medical care as soon as possible if they don’t heal within 3 days.⠀
5) Adopt a gradual approach to weaning your baby off breast milk to reduce the risk of engorgement.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you develop mastitis ensure you keep hand expressing milk from the affected breast and apply cold gel pads.
Visit your doctor to get an examination and a prescription of painkillers and antibiotics as well. Learn more about dealing with common breastfeeding challenges here.