.... and then I get mastitis, in all its chills, sweats, and tender-areas glory.
And so it's been three weeks since I've posted. I think that's a record! Not one that I'm looking to beat, by any means. In honour of breaking it, here is a post about - what else? - mastitis!
What is is? It is an inflammation of the breast tissue. It can be bacterial OR non-bacterial.
How does it happen? Most typically it happens amongst breast-feeding moms, or more generally, lactating moms. I came across a forum where one pregnant lady had it due to her colostrum*! The milk ducts aren't cleared, the milk (or colostrum) sits there and irritates the breast tissue.
When does it happen? Usually in the first several weeks postpartum when the body is finding its rhythm for supplying milk to the newborn, especially in the first two week after the milk comes in due to engorgement. It can happen at any time though; my personal experience is when my daughter began nursing less but my breasts were still producing the same volume of milk, so milk sat around and eventually led to irritation and (more!).
How is it prevented? By draining or nearly the breast of milk either with every feed or, if baby is drinking less, by pumping right after a feed. This is also important to reduce the chances of engorgement.
What are the symptoms? Not all symptoms will appear, nor will they appear at the same time but I'd (unprofessionally) say if you have at least 3 of these, have your breasts checked out. Those with **'s are ones I experienced.
- Itchy area(s) of the breast**
- Tender area(s) of the breast, likely corresponding with the itchy areas**
- Redness or red streaks, likely corresponding with itchy/tender area**
- Swelling of the breast(s)
- Foul-smelling milk/change in milk odour
- Thicker texture of milk
- Pus or blood with milk
- Chills and/or sweat**
How is it treated? Here are some short answers to this:
- REST! Straight to bed, nurse the baby in bed, only get up to clean up yourself, answer nature's call or eat.
- Massage affected area of breasts to encourage milk flow and unplug the milk ducts
- Massages best done in a hot bath or shower, or after/with a warm compress to the breast
- Take Advil to help with the pain and fever
- Use a cold compress after feeding to relieve pain/swelling
- Dress warmly
- If you're experiencing chills, SEE THE DOCTOR A.S.A.P. This most likely signals a bacterial infection for which you will need antibiotics (that are safe for the baby). The sooner this is treated, the better, otherwise you may experience an relapse (which I did!).
Now it's getting late and I'm not sure what else to post but I hope that's enough for readers to go on. For more - and more in-depth - information on mastitis and plugged ducts, please check out this link at KellyMom. Very useful site on all things breastfeeding!
I will post my experience on mastitis soon. Stay well mommies!
* Liquid produced by mothers in the first week or so postpartum that is not yet milk but just what the newborn needs. Don't let older folks tell you it's "water" and not to feed it to the baby!