Often, I get the questions, "how do I know if I have mastitis?"; "What can I do if so?"
Mastitis is the medical name given to an infection of the breast. Usually, it is caused by an infected plug duct or bacteria that made its way through an open wound on the nipple.
You probably heard about this term a lot. Mastitis is a common problem in breastfeeding mothers; however, it is not normal and must be treated immediately to prevent complications.
The typical symptom is pain. It is common to notice a hard area on the breast, together with redness and inflammation.
Sometimes, general flu symptoms appear. Malaise, body pain, fever, and chills are also common.
Fever doesn't always occur. But pain does.
You might not experience all of these symptoms, and the intensity can vary, but we are talking about an infection of the breast, and this is something you definitely like to get rid of soon.
Now, regarding the question, is it always necessary to take antibiotics?
No, not always. The following are a series of natural remedies that may help cure mastitis without the need for antibiotics. My suggestion is to try these techniques for the first 24 hours since the beginning of symptoms. If, after that time, symptoms don't start to get better or worsen, then you should call your HCP to prescribe you antibiotics.
In case that antibiotics are imminent, continue with these techniques, as they'll help you to accelerate your recovery.
First, one of the essential things while fighting mastitis is to keep the affected breast WELL-DRAINED. The accumulation of milk for extended periods will only make things worse. Aim at breastfeeding or pumping at least every 2 hours. Use your hands to express milk frequently. Hands are flexible and can get to areas where the pump can't.
Your baby should be latching on correctly, deep enough. That is the only way he'll remove a fair amount of milk from your breast, and by the way, that's probably the reason you got mastitis in the first place. Try different positions; this will help your baby remove more milk from other areas of the breast.
The heat is very important. Heat helps to fight the infection better. But be careful not to burn your skin. Apply warm compresses 10-15 minutes before you breastfeed or pump.
Avoid very tight bras or clothes. You want to facilitate the milk to flow, not to block it. That's why breast massage is so great. Gentle but vigorously, do it for a few minutes several times a day, especially before breastfeeding or pumping.
Basin soaks are also useful in decreasing inflammation. Fill a bowl with two liters of warm water and add a handful of Epson salt. Submerge the affected breast for a few minutes and gently massage the hard area.
Your body will need lots of rest to recover; be mindful, and listen to its signs. Your local IBCLC can guide you on the best treatments for you, or refer you to the right healthcare specialist, depending on your case.