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What You Should Know About Mastitis

A nursing mother experiences many changes to her breasts while breastfeeding.  We read the books, we plan, and we set breastfeeding goals.  What happens when things don't always go as planned?

WHAT IS MASTITIS?

Mastitis is one of those words that make breastfeeding mothers cringe.  Mastitis can be caused by engorgement, plugged milk ducts or milk that remains in the breast after a feeding.  Cracked or damaged nipples can also increase the risk of mastitis by allowing germs to enter the breast this way.  Mommy Knows Best Nipple Cream Helps keep nipples feeling soft, supple, and healthy. 

SYMPTOMS OF MASTITIS

With mastitis, the infected milk duct causes the breast to swell. Your breast may look red and feel tender or warm.  You may also see red streaks on your breast.  Don't be surprised if you start running a fever and feel as if you've been hit by a truck.  Symptoms of mastitis are similar to that of the flu.  Achiness, pain, chill, and discomfort are all tell-tale signs.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT I HAVE MASTITIS?

One of the first things you should do is call your healthcare provider.  Ask about taking ibuprofen for the pain and discomfort.  Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for the infection based off the severity of your symptoms.

Don't be afraid to nurse often, and this could even provide some relief.  Use breast massages while feeding to help the baby fully drain the breast.  The antibacterial properties in your milk protect your baby and the infection doesn't put them at risk.  Mastitis won't hurt your baby, although it can reduce your milk supply in the affected breast.

Apply warm compresses to the swollen area 3-4 times a day for 10-15 minutes.

Mastitis isn't fun.  Catching it early can help decrease its duration.  Stay in tune with your body and reach out to those for help!

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