While it is often taken for granted, the body’s ability to make milk and deliver it to a baby to sustain and nourish that baby is nothing short of astonishing. Unfortunately, it is often assumed that breastfeeding just happens and that once your supply is established that there are no other things with which to be concerned. There are some issues and ailments that breastfeeding mothers and infants may encounter along their journey. In this blog, we discuss Mastitis, its symptoms, and how it is treated.
What is Mastitis?
Simply put, Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the breast tissue that is most common during the first six months of breastfeeding. The various types of bacteria that lead to Mastitis often find optimum conditions for growth in or around a clogged milk duct. Cracked nipples can significantly increase the likelihood of an infection because they provide a pathway for bacteria to enter the breast tissue. The plugged ducts that act as an incubator for the bacteria is typically the result of going long stretches without completely emptying the breasts.
One of the first things you are likely to notice if you have Mastitis is a painful area in the breast that may be accompanied by inflammation of the breast tissue. The affected area may also be red, warm to the touch, or both. Other flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, and body ache are also possible. Since Mastitis is a bacterial infection, it is common for mothers to feel extremely run down or exhausted until the infection clears up.
If you have reason to believe you may have Mastitis (or you’re exhibiting any of the symptoms previously listed), it is strongly advised that you schedule an appointment with your doctor. If left untreated, it is probable that the infection will worsen and could lead to an abscess which requires serious medical intervention. The typical treatment is a full course of antibiotics, plenty of rest, and to drink lots of fluids. It is imperative for you to make sure you complete the full prescription even if you are feeling better. You may also find some relief from the use of a warm compress and breast massage before feeding or pumping the infected breast.