Mastitis: Breast Infection While Breastfeeding Explained

Breast infection while breastfeeding is also known as mastitis. It could also happen in women that are not breastfeeding but it’s quite rare. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about this infection.

Why breast infection while breastfeeding happens

Breast infection is also known as mastitis. This is an infection that occurs in the breast tissue. It is actually an inflammation of the breast. And it is sometimes associated with an infection. This inflammation comes with pain, swelling and sometimes warmth. Usually, the breast appears to be red. It could also come with chills and fever. This is commonly seen among women. It is very rare to see a case of mastitis among men. It is most common among breastfeeding women. That’s why it’s referred to as a breast infection while breastfeeding. We’ll be looking at what this infection is all about today.

When this infection is present there’s usually a hard sore located in the breast. And this could be as a result of a milk duct that’s blocked. It could also be as a result of the entry of bacteria into the skin as a result of skin breakage. When mastitis occurs during breastfeeding it’s called lactation mastitis. And it is known to affect about 10% of all breastfeeding mothers. And it usually develops around the first few months after birth. It could also occur about 2 years after birth. When a mother has mastitis it affects the feeding of the baby. But the good thing is that usually just affects one of the breasts.


Causes and Symptoms of Mastitis

Most cases of mastitis are caused by bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus. It’s commonly called a staph infection. Streptococcus agalactiae is another cause of this infection.

In breastfeeding mothers, it could be as a result of a plugged duct. When a milk duct is plugged it causes the buildup of milk. And this is can lead to an infection.

Cracked nipples as well are known to increase the risk of having a breast infection. There are bacteria present in the mouth of the baby. So when the baby sucks from a cracked nipple it can cause the entry of bacteria into the bacteria. When bacteria from the skin as well enter the breast they begin to multiply. And this can cause some painful symptoms.

The good thing is that you can keep breastfeeding even when you have mastitis. Because the bacteria wouldn’t affect the baby. Sucking action of the baby is actually a remedy for dealing with mastitis. So make sure you keep breastfeeding even when you have this breast infection.

As for mastitis that occurs in women that are not breastfeeding it’s as a result of a poor immune system. Also, women that are diabetic and have had breast lumps removed through radiation therapy can also have mastitis.

There are certain risk factors that increase the risk of having mastitis. They are:

  1. Smoking
  2. Poor nutrition
  3. Wearing tightfitting bra
  4. Too much stress
  5. Improper nursing technique
  6. Sore nipples

Breast infection comes with certain symptoms. The symptoms can develop over time or can come suddenly. Some of the symptoms are:

  1. Itching
  2. Breast tenderness
  3. Abnormal swelling of the breast
  4. Pain while breastfeeding
  5. Warm breast
  6. Painful lump in the breast
  7. Chills
  8. Nipple discharge can be accompanied by pus
  9. Redness of the skin
  10. Fever
  11. Enlarged lymph nodes
  12. Feeling ill

It’s possible that you would experience flu-like symptoms. This could be before you notice some changes in your breast. When you notice a combination of these symptoms just contact your doctor.


How to Treat Breast Infection While Breastfeeding

The first thing to do when you have breast infection is to opt for self-remedies. We’ll take a look at some of the home remedies. The doctor might ask you to take antibiotics. The thing though is that some studies have shown that antibiotics while breastfeeding are not effective. That’s why it’s advisable to try out home remedies first.

So what are these home remedies?

  1. Make sure you rest well and drink plenty of water.
  2. Breastfeed as often as you can or instead try expressing the milk.
  3. When you want to feed your baby starts with the affected breast, this would help improve drainage.
  4. After breastfeeding try pressing the breast gently, this is so that leftover milk is drained.
  5. Try breastfeeding with different positions and see which one is best for drainage.
  6. Change your feeding position as often as you can.
  7. Use a warm or cool compress before feeding, this would help dissolve the plugged duct.
  8. Wear clothes that are loose.
  9. To relieve the pain, place a cloth that has been soaked in warm water over the breast.

These home remedies would do a long way in unplugging the duct. And allowing for easy flow of milk. With this, the symptoms that come with mastitis would reduce over time.


How to Prevent Mastitis

Prevention they say is better than a cure. So it’s better to try to prevent it than finding solutions to dealing it with it. Let’s have a look at some tips on preventing breast infection while breastfeeding.

  1. Make sure you breastfeed regularly. If that is not possible then opt for pumps. Just make sure you are not engorged.
  2. Make sure that every time you breastfeed you empty the breast well. Then switch breasts.
  3. Avoid having sudden changes when it comes to your feeding schedule.
  4. Don’t use soap for cleaning the nipples. Also, do not do vigorous cleaning when it comes to your nipples.
  5. Make sure that your diet has enough saturated fat and lecithin. This will help prevent plugged ducts.
  6. If you feel any form of lump massage the breast gently.
  7. Try using different feeding positions. This would help improve drainage and prevent the plugging of ducts.
  8. Place warm towels on the breast before breastfeeding. This would help increase the flow of milk.
  9. Avoid wearing bras that are tight fitted. It can cause plugging of the ducts.

If you follow these tips you can be sure that you can prevent mastitis. And just in case you end up with mastitis then you can follow the home remedies. The home remedies are not a definite treatment for mastitis. So make sure that you still see a doctor when you do notice the symptoms. With proper medical attention, you can be sure that in no time you would be done with breast infection while breastfeeding.

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