Are you currently breastfeeding? Keep yourself feeling well with these tips to prevent mastitis from a postnatal physio.
What is mastitis?
Breasts are composed of three main structures; lobes, ducts and fatty/fibrous tissue. The lobes are comprised of an intricately connected network of lobules that produce your breast milk. Your breast milk is carried from each lobe through ducts where they congregate to exit the skin through your nipple.
Mastitis can occur because of an infection or if one of the milk ducts becomes blocked. Commonly mastitis in non-infectious and the primary cause is due to milk not being cleared effectively from the breast. When milk is retained it becomes thicker and can occlude the duct, consequently the new milk produced accumulates behind the obstruction. Fluid is then forced into the surrounding breast tissue causing inflammation, if left untreated this can later manifest into an infection. So let’s try to prevent mastitis with the tips below.
How do you know if you have mastitis?
Initially the symptoms present as flu like and can occur suddenly, they can present as shivers and aches.
The breast itself may become sore and painful, with other inflammatory symptoms such as being hot to touch and swollen. Additionally the skin may appear shiny and red.
To prevent mastitis it’s all about having a regular breastfeeding routine and following these few tips:
Ensure your bub is attaching well and feeding regularly, if there are difficulties with attachment, seek advice from a lactation consultant.
Whilst breastfeeding aim to completely empty each breast prior to moving on to the next. On the next feed alternate the breast you started on or ensure you empty the breast that wasn’t fully emptied on the previous feed.
If the breast becomes engorged and uncomfortable, wake your baby for a feed. If your baby is not taking to the breast or they are not interested, express any excess. You may also need to express after feeds if your breasts still feel full.
Whilst feeding avoid any pressure on the breasts which could obstruct the ducts emptying, such as tight clothing, poorly fitting bras and sustained pressure from your fingers.
Avoid missing or delaying feeds.
Monitor your nipples and breast regularly for any inflammation or nipple damage, practice good hand hygiene. Always wash your hands before touching your breasts.
It’s not always easy to rest up with a new baby but ensuring you are getting adequate rest and down-time is important. Along with maintaining hydration.
If you do develop mastitis, come into myPhysioSA for her to see a postnatal physio, where our experienced Women’s Health Physiotherapists can provide advice, postnatal exercise classes and guide you through treatment options.
Book online or call us on 1300 189 289.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding at any hour of the day you can contact the Australian Breastfeeding Association which is a 24 hour helpline – 1800 686 268.
Written by Jane Rothe, a postnatal physio at myPhysioSA for her Payneham.