Fussy breastfeeding and Mastitis

Fussy breastfeeding and Mastitis

When your baby is coping with reflux and struggles with their breastfeeding, It can become an issue for the mother too. Small feeds, poor latching and fussing around the feed taking small quantities infrequently can lead to slowed down flow and milk duct blockage. This can lead to mastitis, which is a build-up of milk within the breast. Also known as ‘milk stasis’.

What causes mastitis in breastfeeding women?

  • a baby not properly attaching to the breast during feeding
  • a baby having problems sucking
  • infrequent feeds or missing feeds

In some cases, this build-up of milk can also become infected with bacteria. This is known as infective mastitis.

What are the symptoms of mastitis in breastfeeding woman?

Mastitis usually only affects one breast, and symptoms often develop quickly. Symptoms of mastitis can include:

  • a red, swollen area on your breast that may feel hot and painful to touch
  • a breast lump or area of hardness on your breast
  • a burning pain in your breast that may be continuous, or may only occur when you are breastfeeding
  • nipple discharge, which may be white or contain streaks of blood
  • You may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as aches, a high temperature (fever), chills and tiredness.

You should contact your GP as soon as possible if you think you might have mastitis. But if you cannot get an appointment quickly, here are some self-help measures, (that I can personally recommend helped me.)

  • getting plenty of rest and staying well hydrated
  • using over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to reduce any pain or fever
  • avoiding tight-fitting clothing (including bras) until your symptoms improve. Wear cotton if you can.
  • if you are breastfeeding, continuing to feed your baby and making sure your baby is properly attached to your breast. Take painkillers prior to the feed if you are coping with cracked nipples.
  • If using breast pads or shields – replace them frequently
  • Heat – In the bath, use hot flannels over the affected area to help the milk ducts let down and encourage flow. Sometimes this is enough to unblock the affected ducts, if you catch it early.
  • Cabbage leaves! – Savoy cabbage is also very handy for sore nipples and breastfeeding discomforts. The enzymes in Cabbage leaves are known to contain sinigrin (allylisothiocyanate) rapine, mustard oil, magnesium, oxylate and sulphur heterosides. Herbalists believe that cabbage has both antibiotic and anti irritant properties. It is thought that this natural mixture of ingredients helps decrease tissue congestion by dilating (opening) local capillaries (small blood vessels) improving the blood flow in the area. (I have personally used Savoy cabbage leaves and can report that it helped – although worth remembering to remove the cabbage from your bra before you get out of the house!) Really soothing if you keep the cabbage in the fridge.
  • Cold compresses – if savoy cabbage leaves don’t appeal, try a medical cold compress or nipple shield to reduce the pain.
  • Massage – gently massaging your breasts may help reduce blockages. Some mums have found rubbing raw honey onto any particularly sore patches works a treat. Make sure if you do rub to reduce blockages that you use a gentle oil or nipple cream.

If you have any advice or comments about breast feeding mastitis, share below!

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