Mastitis usually occurs in only one breast, but when it occurs due to a Staph infection, it can affect both breasts. This condition often occurs in the early weeks of nursing, and can become very painful. That is why it is imperative to recognize its symptoms and immediately seek treatment to prevent it from turning chronic.
- The infected breast feels swollen, tender, and very painful, which increases during nursing.
- A burning sensation while breastfeeding.
- The pain is accompanied by redness and soreness around the nipples.
- If more than one duct is blocked, there might be a reduction in milk supply.
- One may experience breast engorgement in the tissues.
- Fatigue, tiredness, and a feeling of extreme emotional upheaval can also be experienced by nursing women.
- Fever around 101 º F or higher, accompanied with chills.
According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s (ABM) Clinical Protocol for Mastitis, “If symptoms of mastitis are mild and have been present for less than 24 hours, conservative management (effective milk removal and supportive measures) may be sufficient. If symptoms are not improving within 12 to 24 hours, or if acutely ill, antibiotics should be started.” Early and prompt treatment will ensure that the nursing period is comfortable, so that the condition does not turn chronic, leading to future complications. The treatment is divided into medical help as well as a few home remedies.
The treatment and its course depends upon the number of blocked ducts and the severity. A doctor will mostly conduct a physical examination and take into consideration other symptoms. Antibiotics and pain relievers are generally prescribed to inhibit the spread of infection, reduce inflammation, and soothe the pain. Pain relievers generally include acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It is extremely essential that one completes the course, as this complication is quite prone to recur.
A few important things to bear in mind while breastfeeding will not only help one improve this condition, but also ensure prevention. Breastfeed frequently and from both breasts, even the affected one. Keep the breasts clean before and after nursing, and swab them with warm water to get rid of any infection. A regular feed will relieve engorgement, as milk flow won’t get thicker and clog the ducts. You can also use a breast pump to completely empty the breasts, if necessary. Sleep on the back and not on the side of the affected breast, and take plenty of rest. A good breastfeeding diet and lots of water should also be consumed.
If the related symptoms appear, they should not be ignored, as when untreated and unchecked, it can turn into an abscess which would require surgical draining. Motherhood and nursing would be an enjoyable experience only if you can learn to manage the complications associated with it as well.