Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue. It may lead on to infection. Mastitis can be prevented. The most common time to get mastitis is in the first two to three weeks after birth, but it can happen at other times.
Signs of Mastitis:
- A red area on your breast, which may be tender, swollen and hot to touch
- You may go on to develop a high temperature, chills, aches, tiredness, and other symptoms which make you feel like you are getting “the flu”
- Breasts not “emptied” well enough – they should be soft after breastfeeding
- Sore or cracked nipples, blocked duct or infection
- Stress, fatigue, rapid weaning, missed feedings, poor health, poor nutrition or low immunity
Early Management usually occurs at home
- Seek advice from your midwife, if you start to feel unwell, or if you can’t clear the blocked duct within 12 hours. It is really important that you continue to breastfeed or express your milk.
- Gentle massage, stroking toward the nipple, can also help let-down and milk flow.
- Breastfeed frequently – at least every 2-3 hours - sooner if baby wants to feed or if your breasts are becoming full or uncomfortable.
- Ensure correct positioning and latch – breastfeeding should not be painful – seek help from LMC, Lactation Consultant or La Leche League.
- Let your baby finish on the affected breast first rather than switching to the second breast too quickly.
- Use a variety of breastfeeding positions (your positions and baby’s).
- Express by hand or pump if your breasts are not well softened after breastfeeding, warmth may help to trigger let down, cold packs will help reduce pain and swelling.
- Loosen tight clothing especially your bra. Remove it at night or part of the day.
- Avoid bras with underwire.
- Ask your midwife to check your baby for tongue-tie and thrush.
- Avoid nipple creams or ointments.
- Try to go to bed and get plenty of rest, fluids and nutrition.
- Ask for support from whanau/family and friends.
Natural treatments for Mastitis
- Vitamin C - 3000-5000mg daily.
- Raw garlic - 3-5 cloves per day, chopped into small pieces and swallowed like a pill. Garlic contains allicin which is antimicrobial. Allicin is destroyed by heat which is why you need to use it raw.
- Belladonna 30c - especially if you also have a right sided headache. 3 doses over 24hrs.
- Lachesis 30c - if breast is bluish and you have a left sided headache.
- Aconite 30c - if you develop sudden fever, are very sensitive to light, noise and smell. One dose is usually sufficient.
- Byronia 30c - for slow onset with hard, hot heavy breast with burning pain worse on movement, fever, thirst. 2 doses 3 hrs apart.
- Ginger poultice - grate 2 inches of ginger into a piece of muslin,tie and immerse into hot water (as hot as mum can tolerate). Wring out fomentation and apply to affected breast five or six times. Follow this with a poultice of grated raw potato or taro. Leave this until the next breastfeed.
If there is no improvement within 24 hours, or it becomes worse before then, you must contact your midwife or doctor for further assistance.
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