Breastfeeding Issues: Dealing With Mastitis
Between 1 and 5% of breastfeeding mothers will develop mastitis at some point during breastfeeding. Mastitis can be caused by a sudden decrease in the frequency of feedings (e.g., your baby goes on a nursing strike)which can result in blocked ducts, cracked nipples, and/or inadequate milk drainage. While mastitis can be miserable to deal with, it usually clears up quickly if you continue to nurse your baby from the affected breast, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take an antibiotic if one is recommended by your doctor.
Here are some other important tips on coping with the misery that is mastitis.
- Increase your baby's feedings
Offer her the infected breast first to promote maximum drainage. Do not worry about giving the infection to your baby; scratch it off your "new parent worry list" right now!
Take a warm shower or apply warm washcloths. Then massage the affected area before and during nursing to encourage milk flow.
Find the positions that allows maximum milk drainage.
It will help bring down your fever, too. Call your doctor if the infection hasn't eased after six to eight hours. Your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic to help clear up the infection.
An abscess is a collection of pus in one area of the breast. Suspect that you have a breast abscess if your mastitis symptoms continue after taking antibiotics for two or three days— you'll need to contact your doctor right away. The abscess will have to be drained surgically, but in the meantime, continue to breastfeed your baby as usual.