As a nursing mom, how would you feel if you notice that you have mastitis? If you notice that you have mastitis, you will feel very bad really, but you should consult lactation experts, nurses, and your healthcare providers on how to treat and even stop a reoccurrence. In this article, we are going to teach you how to prevent mastitis infection. This is a feeling of soreness or pain in the breast during lactation caused by clogging of the mammary ducts but if untreated or poorly handled, it could develop into a lump in the affected breast and subsequently, breast cancer.
Table of Contents
- Causes of Mastitis
- Types of Mastitis
- Recurrent or Repeated Mastitis Infection
- The Common Causes of Recurrent Mastitis Infections
- How to Stop Recurrent or Repeated Mastitis Infections
- Can You Prevent Mastitis Infections?
Causes of Mastitis
Mastitis could be caused by some situations such as the blockage of the mammary ducts due to folding or pressing the breasts together by wearing a too tight bra or even wearing a bra overnight while sleeping. Additionally, if you place your elbow on or by the side of your breasts while asleep, this can also result in blockade of the milk duct causing a cessation of the outward flow for the baby to suck. Another factor that can cause mastitis is bacterial infections due to cuts or holes in the breasts giving the viruses a leeway to penetrate into the body.
How can your breasts sustain cuts and cracks? Your breasts can sustain cuts and cracks if you do not know how to latch your baby properly while lactating. Then, bacteria from your baby’s mouth can penetrate the skin pores into the mammary ducts causing soreness and swelling. There are two types of mastitis such as blocked duct mastitis and bacterial mastitis. Let us examine the two types of mastitis carefully and understand how to prevent them from occurring and reoccurring because prevention is better than cure.
Types of Mastitis
There are two types of mastitis, which are blocked duct mastitis and bacterial mastitis. You need to understand the natures of these health conditions and know how to cope with them if they occur, even you should know the best medications and therapies that can assuage the pains more quickly. Moreover, taking the necessary treatments will help you to stay healthy and ensure a sufficient supply of breastmilk to nurture your baby very well.
Blocked Duct Mastitis
Blocked duct mastitis is a painful swelling caused by clogging of the mammary ducts due to the folding or compacting of your breasts into a tight bra and even wearing a bra to sleep overnight. Furthermore, if you miss a feed, your ducts will be full of milk but when you are unable to discharge the fluid quickly, it will form a lump. However, an easy way to get rid of the menace is by massaging your breasts gently and gradually until the swelling dissolves but this process will be more effective if you are suckling a child while massaging is ongoing on the affected breast simultaneously.
The Symptoms of Blocked Duct Mastitis
When you notice the following symptoms in your body, you should know that it might be caused by blocked duct mastitis and then, take medications immediately. The indications include flu-like symptoms, sore inflamed breasts, pains, temperature, and aches. Likewise, if you feel your breasts with your hands, there will be an area with unusual firmness or thickness and a hue of pinkness too. If you are able to detect and massage it out of your breasts within 24 hours of its occurrence, you will be safe. Nevertheless, if the thickness persists despite all efforts to depress it, then consult your doctor for assistance and treatment.
Recommended Cures and Solutions for Blocked Duct Mastitis
There are several ways to treat mammary duct blockage such as taking a warm bath or using a warm pack on your breasts for five to ten minutes. You can also get antibiotics from your healthcare provider, although this is to stop the bacteria from damaging the mammary glands and other cells, especially if the breastmilk has been there for more than 24 hours. It is good to note here that the drugs will not deflate the inflammation but act against any bacteria that may be growing in the tissues. Rather, you should imbibe on massaging to get a faster relief.
Additionally, as I said earlier that massaging the swollen area can help to alleviate the pains and reduce inflammation, especially if you apply some oil on your fingers and proceed by rubbing the breast upwards and downwards towards the nipples in a continuous motion. You can achieve a greater result if your baby is breastfeeding while massaging is going on too.
Another strategy is by feeding the baby regularly on the affected breast. However, you should not ignore the other breast but concentrate more on the side with an issue while you position the chin of your kid towards the lump.
Are you breastfeeding a baby now? Then, check your nipples for cracks or cuts because these tiny openings can be a leeway for microorganisms to get into your tissues causing an infection often referred to as bacterial mastitis. However, this cracks and cuts often occur at the early stage of breastfeeding and viruses can penetrate through them resulting in pains and inflammations in the mammary glands.
Symptoms of Bacterial Mastitis
One of the striking features of this infection is that you will not notice any lump on your breast but inflammations, soreness, and even pinkness on the affected areas. Other symptoms include temperature, pains, flu-like symptoms, and aches.
Recommended Cures and Solutions for Bacterial Mastitis
Whenever, you notice the attack of bacterial mastitis on you, consult your healthcare provider immediately for necessary medications. Despite this attack on your breasts, it is wise to continue lactating while treatment with antibiotic drugs still progresses as recommended by your doctor. Another important approach for the prevention of mastitis infection is ‘latching right’. If you can latch your baby properly, then the cracks and cuts will reduce drastically and there will be no way for bugs to penetrate into your body system.
Recurrent or Repeated Mastitis Infection
When a nursing mom experiences an attack of mastitis infection more than once, it will be said that she had a repeated or recurrent infection. There are several reasons that could lead to this experience and it is risky to the mother, especially the child.
The Common Causes of Recurrent Mastitis Infections
The common causes of recurrent or repeated mastitis infections include:
Issues with the Nipples
Most of the time, there could be some issues with the nipples such as discharges of dry milk on the nipples making it difficult for the breast to bring out milk. This condition can cause a blocked duct, which will eventually lead to mastitis. It is only when the crusts of milk on the nipples are peeled off that your child can suck breastmilk successfully.
Another issue that can occur to the nipples is bleeding nipples, and this can be as a result of cracks and sores on the nipples. However, if this is not treated on time, it could give bacteria an access to the breasts leading to bacterial mastitis. ‘Thrush’ is regarded as a secondary infection caused by the presence of yeast or fungus in the breastmilk. This issue can cause soreness and inflammation in the mammary ducts leading to mastitis as well. Furthermore, there is an issue called ‘milk blisters’ which can result in recurrent blocked ducts.
Poor Treatment and Inadequate Recovery from a Previous Attack
Poor treatment and inadequate recovery from a previous attack are the major causes of recurrent mastitis infections although, there are other factors leading to it. A careful examination of some mothers with this malady proved that they did not complete their courses of medications during the first occurrence, therefore, they were not able to eliminate the virus, hence its reoccurrence. However, this poses major challenges to the lactating mother and in some cases; the baby could be affected too, due to inability to handle the condition properly.
The drugs known to be effective for the treatment of mastitis are Erythromycin, Keflex, Dicloxacillin, and Amoxil. Although, most of the time, Amoxil is not too effective against the attack of mastitis. Moreover, treatment and medications should continue for about 2 weeks for positive results.
The Health Condition of the Mother
How is your overall health condition as a new mother? Are you worried, tired, too busy, and have little or no time for rest? You may be at the risk of another attack of mastitis if you are not enjoying enough rest after your daily chores and routines. A low resistance to infections could be triggered by anemic conditions. It is advisable to always do a blood test for anemia if there is a repeated mastitis attack. In addition, you should always consume foods rich in iron, especially natural sources of iron or you can be ingesting supplemental vitamins. Do not forget to always take vitamin C supplements in order to buoy your immune system.
Deformation of the Mammary Ducts
How can a mom’s mammary ducts be deformed? Deformation of the mammary duct can occur in moms with the previous record of mastitis infection. During the attack, the duct could be affected and deformed, even at the same spot of attack making it difficult for breastmilk to be flowing out easily. An easy way to checkmate this malady is to continue pumping out the breastmilk even after the infection is treated successfully.
Poor Release and Drainage of Breastmilk from the Breast
The release and drainage of breastmilk from the breast are very important because poor release can lead to recurrent infections. Some of the factors that can cause this condition include engorgement due to interrupted feedings, busy schedules, and other nursing limitation issues. Other causes of poor milk drainage from the breast are the use of nipple shield, breast surgery, upper arm exercises, and latching process and positioning
How to Stop Recurrent or Repeated Mastitis Infections
Consuming Dietary and other probiotic supplements
The consumption of dietary products and other probiotic supplements will help to prevent the reoccurrence of mastitis. One of the dietary supplements is lecithin needed and relevant to prevent and even treat repeated mastitis. Another beneficial supplement is Vitamin C, it is also necessary to boost the immunity of a breastfeeding mom and guarantee her good health and that of the child too. Moreover, drinking enough liquids is vital in boosting and maintaining your blood composition at a proper level.
Prolonged Low Dose Antibiotics
The appropriate way to handle recurrent mastitis infection is by taking low dose antibiotics for a prolonged period. With this approach, you may take the drugs for about two to three months or throughout the duration of lactation. In this way, recurrent or repeated mastitis will not reoccur and the mother will be free to feed her baby. You can remind the doctor to add antifungal drugs to the antibiotic medications. It is wise to add a dietary supplement like acidophilus to the dosages too.
Engaging in massage therapy is necessary to ensure that the breastmilk is drained out of the milk ducts. If this therapy is done on a daily basis, it will help to prevent a reoccurrence of mastitis infections.
One of the best ways to ensure a thorough drainage of breastmilk and prevent repeated mastitis is by continuous breastfeeding. Ensuring that the baby gets enough dose of the milk by feeding him constantly is ideal to reduce soreness and inflammation in the breast. Even if he does not cry for food give him, suckle as long as he can take it.
Recurrent or repeated mastitis can be prevented by using acupuncture on the breast.
Applying Breastmilk Constantly
If you apply breastmilk constantly on the cracks and sores on the breast, it will help to dry them and heal you faster keeping bacteria and viruses away, thereby preventing a reoccurrence of mastitis infection.
Can You Prevent Mastitis Infections?
Mastitis is a health condition peculiar to the mammary organs in lactating moms, due to an attack by bacteria and wrong positioning of the breasts while sleeping or wearing a bra. Proper latching is a good way to position and prepares the baby for its mother’s breasts and this is necessary to prevent cracks and cuts on the nipples too. Bacteria from the baby’s mouth can relocate into your breasts. However, most moms do not have the basic knowledge of latching rightly and lactating properly. Additionally, a careful observation of the symptoms of mastitis on your breasts and overall health condition will help you to take medications and other measures that can assuage the condition. Having read this insightful article carefully, now can you prevent mastitis infections?