Pregnancy can bring along a whole lot of interesting experiences for the new mother. And while most of these experiences are good, there are some rather painful ones that tend to affect her in more ways than one. And Mastitis happens to be one of them.
What Is Lactational Mastitis?
Many women tend to experience what’s called as Lactational Mastitis right after their pregnancy. Usually occurring somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd week after delivery, either during the nursing period or during the weaning period, the condition is experienced by as many as 10% of new mothers annually.
Lactational Mastitis is diagnosed as a breast infection that is caused due to a condition called plugged duct. Accordingly, the milk ducts present in the breast are responsible for delivering the milk from the milk glands to the nipples.
When these ducts become partially or fully blocked (either due to excess formation of milk or weaning), they inhibit the free flow of milk to the nipples and cause the milk to stagnate in the breasts.
Symptoms You Need To Be Wary Of
Although Lactational Mastitis is a common issue in new mothers, it can be quite painful and hard to treat, and can cause several other health related ailments in the long run if left untreated.
The first signs of lactational mastitis would usually begin with inflammation of the breasts. The particular area of the breast which is affected starts to swell and becomes reddish in color. The swelling increases and is soon followed by acute pain if the condition is left untreated.
Women suffering from lactational mastitis usually produce grainy or lumpy milk. The stagnant milk present in the milk hardens up into lumps which are then discharged by the breast by applying external force (by squeezing the breast or using a breast pump). In this case, the discharge would contain lumps or grains of milk and would cause extreme pain in the breast.
If the condition is left untreated, it could escalate into more serious issues. Accordingly, bacteria and other disease causing microbes can enter the breast through the opening in the nipple. The stagnant milk present in the ducts and nipples would provide a favorable medium for these microbes to multiply and grow.
When this happens, the nipple would swell up and become extremely tender. This is usually followed by discoloration and peeling of the skin, and in the worst case scenario, bleeding from the nipples.
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In very rare cases, new mothers who suffer from lactational mastitis tend to develop fever that occur as sudden chills resembling a viral infection. Although there is nothing to worry about these chills, they may cause extreme discomfort to the mother.
Treating Lactational Mastitis
The best and most common (and natural) way to treat lactational mastitis is to remove the accumulated milk from the breast. This can be done by continuing to breast feed, massaging the breasts or using a breast pump to pump out the milk. The last method can be adopted in cases where in the milk does not come out even after breastfeeding.
Once the excess milk is removed from the breast, apply hot and cold compresses on the affected area of the breast alternatively. In case the milk has solidified, opt for a hot oil massage on the affected area to liquidate the milk before breast feeding.
In case the above mentioned options do not work out, a suitable alternative is to opt for antibiotics that can help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with the issue. However, if you opt for antibiotics, note that you need to refrain from breastfeeding until you finish the course.
Never opt for over the counter medications even though you may be familiar with their use. Always check the antibiotic you buy with a qualified physician in order to ascertain the correct usage of the drug for maximum benefits and minimal side effects.