What Is Mastitis and How Can You Treat It?
A few months into my breastfeeding journey, my left breast started to ache. I noted that it was hurting and thought of it as odd, but went about my day. By that night I had a fever and my breast hurt so bad I could hardly touch it. I knew something was wrong.
I called my doctor to describe my symptoms and she immediately told me I had mastitis. She prescribed an antibiotic and told me to put warm compresses on my breast.
Had I known what mastitis was and what it felt like, I would have started the hot compresses much sooner in an effort to stop the infection before it started. So without further ado, here is everything I wish I had known about mastitis.
What Is Mastitis?
Mastitis is a breast infection that is caused by milk sitting in milk ducts for too long. It often occurs within the first 6 to 12 weeks of breastfeeding, but can also happen later on (which is what happened to me).
There are a few tell-tale symptoms of mastitis:
- Pain, swelling, and redness of the breast
- Flu-like symptoms that include a very high fever (sometimes up to 105!)
- The breast can feel warm to the touch
What to Do if You Have Mastitis
If you think you are getting mastitis, or already have it, first call your doctor. Next, use warm compresses, take lots of hot showers, and manually massage the breast.
Make sure to keep nursing and even add in a few pumping sessions to help rid your breast of the excess milk. You want to release the blocked duct that is causing the infection.
You may need antibiotics, and if you do, make sure to take the entire dose to prevent the infection from returning.
How to Prevent Mastitis
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to ensure you will never have mastitis. However, there are a few things you can do to help try to prevent it:
- Make sure your baby is fully latched when eating to help drain the breast
- Encourage your baby to fully drain a breast before putting him or her onto the other breast
- If you think you are getting mastitis, put a warm compress on immediately
- If you think you have a clogged duct, take a hot shower and use a wide tooth comb on the area to try to break-up the clog
Is there anything you still want to know about mastitis? Have you ever had it? What did you to that was helpful?