Treatments for mastitis
Mastitis is essentially an inflammation of the breast tissue. About 10 to 20% of women will experience mastitis at some time during their breastfeeding. While mastitis can happen at any time, it is most commonly experienced from about one week after the birth, until the baby is about 4 months old. Some women find they are 'prone' to mastitis, and may experience it more than once. The signs of 'non-infective' and 'infective' mastitis can include:
- A section of the breast or 'wedge' (often on the side of the breast, near the armpit) becoming swollen, throbbing and painful, with the skin feeling hot and tender and looking reddened (possibly as a 'streak' of redness down the side of the breast). Occasionally the skin can look shiny.
- Symptoms similar to the flu. Being weak, lethargic, aching all over, headache, having a fever, chills, shivers and sweats (known as 'rigors'), with a raised temperature (above 38o Celsius).
Many women will describe being 'floored' by their mastitis, feeling very ill and unable to do anything except stay in bed.
The most common reasons for developing mastitis can include:
- Incorrect attachment of the baby at the breast, especially with nipple damage (cracks or grazes).
- A blocked milk duct not being cleared.
- Overfull, or engorged breasts.
- Not draining the breast adequately, due to not feeding the baby on demand, or limiting the time the baby feeds on the breast.
- Sudden weaning of the baby from the breast, or the baby starting to sleep through the night, or the mother returning to work or study and not expressing milk regularly.
- Having an oversupply of milk.
- Trying to do too much, being tired, stressed, run down and not caring for yourself.
There are two types of mastitis, these are: