Mastitis is an uncomfortable and often painful condition that affects lactating parents. After you’ve given birth, your body is likely already adjusting to lots of changes, whether you gave birth vaginally or through a C-section.
You may already be dealing with pain and discomfort, and mastitis on top of all that can be extremely disheartening and upsetting. While you may be enjoying the precious, fleeting time with your newborn, it’s crucial to prioritize your health and needs, too.
Luckily, there are ways to treat mastitis, including ways to find relief at home, along with seeking support from an insurance-covered IBCLC, also known as a lactation consultant, via telehealth or in person.
Keep reading to learn more about how to manage your mastitis symptoms, including when to seek professional help.
Signs And Symptoms Of Mastitis
Before you can move forward with mastitis treatment, you need to know what the symptoms are, so you can catch the issue early on.
While the best way to know if you have mastitis is to contact your location consultant or healthcare professional, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Tenderness or warmth when you touch your breast
- Swelling around the breast
- Pain or burning feelings while breastfeeding
- Feeling sick
- Having a fever of over 101 F
You may notice one of these symptoms or multiple. If you have a fever, you should contact your doctor or visit an urgent care facility for treatment.
How To Treat Mastitis
If you have a fever or notice other concerning symptoms, it’s important to seek medical assistance. However, if your mastitis symptoms aren’t severe, you can use at-home remedies to find relief.
According to information from the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants at The Lactation Network, you can try the following treatments on your own:
- Keep breastfeeding: While the pain of mastitis may tempt you to stop breastfeeding or pumping altogether, doing so can make things worse. Mastitis doesn’t make your milk unsafe, so keep expressing the milk on a routine basis.
- Use cool compresses: Ice packs and other cool compresses can offer relief for painful, burning sensations. You can wear these in your bra or place them on your breasts. Make sure to have a cloth barrier between the ice packs and your skin.
- Get rest: While rest is often hard to come by when you have a new baby, it is extremely important. Try to get as much rest as possible to allow the mastitis to heal.
- Take medication: Many over-the-counter pain medications will provide some relief from mastitis symptoms. Be sure to ask your doctor or lactation professional about the safest options to take while breastfeeding.
- Wear supportive bras: Another thing that can help with mastitis is wearing a good, supportive bra. While nursing bras and sports bras might be the best for postpartum, you still want to ensure they are good quality and aren’t too tight.
With these five ideas, you can hopefully find relief. Of course, it’s still best to talk to a healthcare professional so they can address the underlying issues and create a treatment plan for you.
Can You Prevent Mastitis?
Because mastitis is breast tissue inflammation usually caused by a clogged milk duct or infection, there are some things you can do to prevent mastitis.
One of the best things you can do is regularly express milk. Even if your baby isn’t wanting to breastfeed, you still want to ensure your breasts don’t get too full.
Pumping is just as effective at preventing this issue.
You also want to make sure that your baby latches correctly. Some babies can have a difficult time with this, so again, contact your lactation consultant for more assistance.
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