This month I am honoured to have Lauren Threadgate, the creator of Breastfeeders In Australia – A place where breastfeeders in Australia come together to share… as my guest blogger! Follow Lauren’s Facebook page and you will be sure to have some great breastfeeding related articles shared in your feed. Lauren is a busy mum to two beautiful children and has kindly taken time to share her 8 top tips for managing mastitis for us. I hope you find them really helpful. 🙂
8 Tips For Managing Mastitis
Mastitis is a big worry for breastfeeding mums! If you’ve never had it, at the very least you’ve probably heard someone else talk about it.
Attending a breastfeeding education class during pregnancy and working with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) once your baby is born can really help you get your breastfeeding journey off to the best possible start. Proper management of engorgement, ensuring optimal attachment and allowing your baby to feed on demand are some of the ways an IBCLC can help you avoid mastitis.
But not everyone has access to the classes or an IBCLC, and a lot of mums don’t learn about them until it’s too late. If you become sick with mastitis, you can seek support from an IBCLC, a GP or at your local hospital. They will discuss strategies for treatment, which will usually include antibiotics. You may also like to seek additional support from the trained breastfeeding counsellors at the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM.
Despite excellent support, I was sick with mastitis after both of my kids. Here are 8 tips I picked up from my experiences.
- Is it mastitis? If you can feel a hot, red, painful lump in your breast, but don’t have any other signs of illness, you may just have a blocked duct. If you begin treatment immediately, you may be able to escape your blocked duct turning into mastitis. I’ve had mastitis twice, but I have had many blocked ducts that I have cleared without falling ill.
- How do you feel? If you come down with a fever, sweats, chills, headache, body-ache and other flu-like symptoms, you may have mastitis and should see a health care professional ASAP. Mastitis is much more than a sore breast – it can cause your health to rapidly deteriorate and should be treated with urgency.
- Some antibiotics have anti-inflammatory properties. You should discuss antibiotics with your health care practitioner.
- Heat and Cold. I was encouraged to use heat on my breast immediately before feeds to soften any blockages before draining the breast, and cold at other times to reduce inflammation.
- Treat the lump. You can massage it, massage it while pumping or breastfeeding, position bub so their chin massages it and “dangle feed”. Some mums recommend using the vibrations from an electric toothbrush or clippers. I use an actual vibrating wand.
- Thrush.Unfortunately antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad, and this can sometimes result in thrush. You can get the upper hand on this by taking a probiotic during your course of antibiotics. Your health care professional or pharmacist can guide you with finding the right probiotic.
- Baby poo. My kids got extra smelly, runny and explosive bowel movements when I was on antibiotics to treat my mastitis. This is an unfortunate side effect, but it’s generally not so bad that treatment should be stopped. When I have taken probiotics with antibiotics, these symptoms have abated.
- Lecithin can help clear blocked ducts. Dr Jack Newman suggests this is because lecithin is an emulsifier and it decreases the “stickiness” of the milk. It can be taken in capsules and is safe to take while breastfeeding.
It’s never too late to seek breastfeeding support from an IBCLC or the National Breastfeeding Helpline. There’s no doubt mastitis is an awful illness to be struck with, but with the right support, hopefully you can make a quick recovery and enjoy the rest of your breastfeeding journey.
This information is general, and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. If you have concerns about the health of your breastfed child I would encourage you to seek the support of an IBCLC. You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM
Thank you so much for sharing your tips Lauren!
Please don’t hesitate to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more questions and I am sure Lauren will be more than happy to help either answer them or point you in the right direction for help.
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