If you are a new breastfeeding mom you are probably wondering what is mastitis, how do I know if I have it, and what can I do about it?
Mastitis is an infection in the breast, usually caused by a plugged duct. 20% of moms experience mastitis and it's more common in the first 2-3 weeks, though it can happen anytime in a woman's breastfeeding journey. Mastitis is definitely one of those not-so-fun things that can come with breastfeeding. Luckily, there are a few different ways you can prevent it and treat it if you need to!
What Causes Mastitis?
In order to prevent mastitis in the first place, it’s important to understand what a plugged duct is and how to treat it. A plugged duct is exactly what it sounds like; milk cannot pass through a duct and the area will become hard and uncomfortable. If not dealt with, an infection can start resulting in mastitis.
What can cause a plugged duct?
How Can I Prevent Plugged Ducts?
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and ditch the bra whenever possible for the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding (lots of skin to skin time with baby in only a diaper and you topless will also help with bonding and establishing a strong breastfeeding relationship)
- Don’t wear a bra unless you have to
- Give baby unlimited access to breastfeed and offer the breast often (if visitors are preventing you from feeding as often as you’d like either slow down the number of visitors or enlist a support person to ask your guests to leave)
- Past those initial few weeks be sure to continue feeding/pumping so that you don’t regularly skip feeds
Tips for Moms with a Plugged Duct:
So, Do I Have Mastitis?
More than having a hard lump in your breast, there are many more unpleasant symptoms that arise with an infection present.
- The location of the plugged duct will be painful, sometimes with red streaks and will be warm/hot to the touch
- General feeling of being unwell including fatigue and nausea
How To Treat Mastitis?
- REST! Mastitis is also known as a signal that you are doing too much. It can be a really clear signal to slow down and take it easy. Ideally being topless in bed with baby is the first recommendation
- Feed from the affected side first (some babies will refuse to nurse on the affected side because your milk may have a more salty taste, this will also return to normal once the infection has been cleared)
- Use a cold compress between feedings
- Taking probiotics and using supplements such as echinacea can help fight the infection
- If mastitis will clear up on its own, it will do so within 48 hours and unfortunately, many cases require treatment with antibiotics
While Mastitis isn’t a pleasant experience, if it persists past a day or two it can be treated quickly with antibiotics. Be sure to enjoy lots of probiotic friendly foods to both help your body fight infection and reestablish healthy bacteria after taking antibiotics. Listen to your body’s wisdom, mastitis is your body’s way of telling you to slow down, rest and take extra good care of yourself.
Don't forget to try our Majka Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder and our Lactation Bites to feel your best while breastfeeding! Be sure to check out some of these free resources to help you feel prepared and confident as a new mother!
- 7 Important Nutrients for Breastfeeding Moms
- Breastfeeding Guide for New Moms
- The Role of Nutrition in Postpartum Recovery
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