Mastitis - what exactly is that?
Breast inflammation, also called mastitis, is either inflammation of the breast due to obstruction of milk flow or bacterial infection. Both have - at a time when you actually need all your energy - a crippling effect. Maybe you feel like you have the flu.
Other symptoms could be:
- Red, hard or sore spots on your chest
- Her breast is hot and swollen
- The body temperature rises above 38.5 degrees Celsius
- Shivering and exhaustion
You are not alone with a breast infection: About one in every 20 breastfeeding mothers is affected, and even some mothers who bottle it may get mastitis. The good news: you may get breast infection more than once, but it is very unlikely that both breasts will be affected at the same time.
What causes mastitis?
An infectious mastitis is caused by invading germs. Normally they migrate from the mouth, throat or nose of your baby into a milk duct - through sore nipples. But even mothers who bottle their children, can get a breast infection by a congestion.
Non-infectious mastitis can be caused by a problem with breastfeeding: for example, through a blocked milk duct or if the baby is placed incorrectly. Other factors can also promote breast inflammation: for example, if the breast is not completely emptied or if you do not have strong defenses (most mothers are tired, stressed, and often eat in-between). This applies to both mothers who breastfeed and those who do not breastfeed.
First-time mothers are more likely to have mastitis, but even mothers who already breast-feed their second or third child and have more breastfeeding experience are not immune to it.
Mastitis can occur at any time until you have weaned; but between the 10th and the 28th day after birth breast infections are the most common.
How can I treat a breast infection?
Make an appointment with the doctor immediately. He can prescribe you an antibiotic (of course, one that will not hurt your child - most antibiotics commonly prescribed for mastitis are baby-friendly), prescribe protection, and recommend an analgesic and cold or warm compresses. You will feel better as soon as the antibiotic starts to work within 48 hours.
If you do not want to take an antibiotic right away, your midwife may suggest you the following alternative treatments:
- Take care and sleep a lot
- Cool your breast whenever your child is not drinking. Quark and cabbage from the fridge, for example, and rescuers from outside the pharmacy are ideal for cooling.
- Warm your breasts before breastfeeding with a warmed up cherry stone pillow or warm, damp wraps - this makes the milk flow easier
- Keep your child healthy to clear the inflamed chest. This can help to heal the infection.
- Be sure to put your baby properly.
- Try different breastfeeding positions.
- Rest as much as you can - take your baby to bed with you (but be careful not to overheat your child).
How long will mastitis last?
Mastitis, if diagnosed early, is easy and quick to treat. You can continue to breastfeed with the inflamed breast. If you are taking an antibiotic, be sure to use up the prescribed amount - otherwise you may end up with the same infection again shortly thereafter. You should feel much better soon. If your chest is still sensitive and you still have elevated temperature, go to the doctor again. If the pain is very severe, he may also recommend a painkiller such as ibuprofen.
The best way to avoid mastitis is to take a lot of rest and eat a healthy and balanced diet. When we are tired and exhausted, we become more susceptible to infections.
Should I stop breastfeeding during mastitis?
No. In fact, it is important that you continue to breastfeed during the infection. Although this sometimes hurts a lot, you should have your child drink regularly to your breast to continue producing milk. They thus prevent additional obstruction of the milk channels. Warm up your breasts with compresses for a few minutes before you breastfeed. This supports the natural milk flow reflex and makes breastfeeding more bearable.
If your baby does not completely empty the inflamed breast, use a pump to help pump the rest. And if you find it unbearable to breastfeed, then also pump out the milk, fill in a bottle and give it to your baby. But you should not rely on this technique alone. Your little one can empty your breasts much better than any resource.
Will mastitis affect my baby?
Even if you probably feel terrible - your child does not mind mastitis. It would be no wonder if the germs that have inflamed your breast are even originally from your child's mouth. But do not worry that the germs could migrate back.