Mastitis: symptoms and VERY important tips to avoid and treat it

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Breastfeeding not only represents the best way to provide nutrients to newborns, it also implies an affective mother-child approach and the protection of her baby through the passage of immune factors. During this stage, we must maintain the necessary care to avoid breast complications such as mastitis, an inflammation and infection of the breast caused by bacteria. It is necessary to take measures to avoid it and prevent the development of breast complications that manifest with discomfort in the breasts that will frequently require the use of antibiotics and that can lead the mother to hospital admissions.  

In this article, with the collaboration of obstetrician gynecologist, we tell you what exactly mastitis consists of, what its symptoms are and how you can avoid and treat it.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation generated in the breast caused by an infection. This infection can be caused by a blocked milk duct or lacerations in the skin of the nipple. When any of the above reasons exist, the white blood cells release substances to fight the infection, which can cause increased blood flow and local swelling. Mastitis tends to occur more frequently in lactating women, this is known as lactation-associated mastitis, but it can also occur outside of this period in both women and men.

When suffering from lactation-associated mastitis, women frequently feel that they no longer have milk production or these infections also cause them anxiety about being able to affect the babies, which frequently leads to the suspension of lactation. It is recommended that despite taking the medication prescribed by her doctor, she does not interrupt her breastfeeding, since breast engorgement favors the persistence of the infection.

Symptoms of mastitis 

The presenting symptoms are the best way to diagnose mastitis, in addition to a physical examination of the breasts. Mastitis usually only affects one breast.

Some of the symptoms that occur are:

  • Fever of 38.3 °C.
  • Swelling of the breasts.
  • Redness of the skin of the breast.
  • Sensitivity of the breasts or sensation of heat to the touch.
  • Pain or burning sensation continuously or during lactation.
  • General discomfort.

The most frequent factors that can cause mastitis are; laceration of the skin of the nipple, usually due to an inadequate lactation technique, which allows the entry and colonization of bacteria in the mammary ducts, which can progress to form abscesses if women are not treated in a timely manner. Another cause of mastitis is the obstruction of mammary milk ducts.

Care for the prevention and treatment of mastitis 

Is it safe to breastfeed when you have mastitis? The answer is yes. In fact, it is considered that breastfeeding can help eliminate the infection. When the woman stops breastfeeding the baby when she suddenly has mastitis, that is, as soon as she finds out, it is very likely that the symptoms will worsen. However, the following tips can be followed while breastfeeding:

  • Before breastfeeding, prolonged overload of milk in the breasts should be avoided.
  • Massage the breasts during pumping or lactation from the infected area.
  • Vary positions for breastfeeding.
  • Ensure that the breasts drain completely during lactation.
  • Try to make sure the baby latches on correctlyWhen the breasts are engorged it can be difficult.

Additionally, the following tips can be followed:

  • Promote the evacuation of breast milk frequently.
  • Improve the feeding technique, making sure there is adequate grip and sucking.
  • Proper hand hygiene.
  • Avoid antifungal creams.
  • If breast pumps are used; monitor proper hygiene of them.

Consult your doctor for advice you can follow while breastfeeding or in general. Avoid consuming medicines if it is not prescribed by your specialist doctor.

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