All You Need To Know About Mastitis, A Painful Breastfeeding Condition

Nursing mothers should not neglect painful breastfeeding as it could be mastitis. Know more about this condition in this article.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Aug 07, 2022Updated at: Aug 07, 2022
All You Need To Know About Mastitis, A Painful Breastfeeding Condition

As the nine-month-long journey of pregnancy comes to an end, another begins- a lifelong journey of motherhood. New mothers begin to form a new relationship with their newborn at the very first sight, touch and feed. Breastfeeding further helps to strengthen this unbreakable bond. Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for both the mother and baby but it is true that breastfeeding is not always smooth for moms and babies. Painful breastfeeding is a common problem that a lot of mothers experience but don’t seek treatment for.  

According to Dr. Sheetal Sachdeva, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology in New Delhi, breast tenderness, nipple soreness, and milk leakage are common breastfeeding problems but mastitis is an unlikely breast infection that develops in the breast tissue. The painful condition causes the breasts to become swollen, red and inflamed. It usually occurs during the first six to twelve weeks of breastfeeding and usually affects one breast. The condition can be especially distressing because it may cause new mothers to discontinue breastfeeding, which is the optimum source of nutrition for new-born.(Click here for 5 Questions That You Must Ask A Gynae About Breastfeeding)

Symptoms of Mastitis

Mastitis can present symptoms rapidly and one of the first few indicators is a swollen area on the breast that may be hot and painful to touch. Simultaneously, the area may become red and tender. Breastfeeding mothers with mastitis may also develop a wedge-shaped breast mark or lump on their breast. Mastitis is accompanied by a burning pain in the breast that may either be constant or occur during breastfeeding. Additionally, mastitis patients will notice a nipple discharge or even a few streaks of blood. Women may also get flu-like symptoms such as fever above 101 F, body aches, chills and fatigue.

painful Breastfeeding mastitis 

Also Read: Going To Have Twins? Here Is Twins Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms

What Causes Painful Breastfeeding Mastitis?

The primary cause of mastitis is a build-up of milk in the breast due to a blocked milk duct or an improper breastfeeding technique. Bacteria may enter the breast tissue through the milk duct or crack in the skin and grow in the stagnant milk. Breastfeeding mothers should keep an eye out for cracked or sore nipples and problematic latching techniques or using only a single position to breastfeed, as these factors raise the risk of a breastfeeding mother developing mastitis. Additionally, breastfeeding women should avoid using only one position to breastfeed or wearing a tight bra that restricts the milk flow.

Treatment

The healthcare provider may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat the mastitis. The infection should clear out within 10 days, although it may last as long as three weeks. Sometimes, mastitis can also disappear without any medical treatment. Mothers are recommended to continue to breastfeed their babies throughout the infection as it helps to unclog the milk ducts. Additionally, mothers cannot pass their infection to the baby through breast milk so it is safe. Furthermore, breast milk has strong antibiotic properties that helps the baby to fend off infections. And the antibiotics prescribed for mastitis are safe for the baby. You should consult your doctor in case you notice pus like discharge from the nipple.

Also Read: Signs of Breast Cancer In New Mothers While Breastfeeding

painful Breastfeeding mastitis treatment 

Management

To reduce the pain and inflammation, breastfeeding mothers can soak a cloth in warm water and place it on their breast to soothe the pain. Additionally, a warm shower or bath may also help. Mothers with mastitis should breastfeed every two hours to keep the milk flowing or may use a breast pump to express themselves in between feedings. Drinking plenty of fluids and adequate rest can also help ease the pain and infection. Moreover, massaging the affected breast in a gentle circular motion, starting from the sore area towards the nipple, will also help the milk flow.

Prevention

Breastfeeding mothers can minimise their chances of getting mastitis by airing out the nipples after breastfeeding. Mothers should also allow the baby to empty one breast completely before switching to the other breast. A change in the breastfeeding position after every feed may also be helpful. Additionally, women should ensure the baby latches on properly during feeding and use their fingers to break the baby’s suction to stop feeding. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid wearing nursing pads or tight-fitting bras to keep the nipples dry. A lactation consultation may also help new mothers learn tips and breastfeeding techniques to prevent mastitis.

Conclusion

Mastitis can be a painful and uncomfortable problem that may cause a brief interlude or distress between the mother and her baby’s breastfeeding relationship. But breastfeeding mothers can heave a sigh of relief as the problem does not last long or cause any long-term complications. They should continue breastfeeding their baby to help clear up the infection.

Image credits- freepik

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