Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that can sometimes lead to an infection. It is usually caused by milk that is trapped within the breast such as when a mum is weaning or when mum is away from the baby for long periods.
All of these cause inflammation. The infection happens when bacteria migrate from the surface of the nipple to your milk such as when mum has sore nipples. Your milk is like sweet, sweet chocolate to bacteria and if your breasts aren’t emptied enough, it can very quickly become a breeding ground for them to multiply.
This infection is what causes chills, fever, and pain. Other symptoms include redness, breast tenderness or warmth to the touch, breast swelling, and lumps. You may also find that your expressed milk may look stringy or clumpy, it may contain milk or pus and baby may refuse to take the breast. It usually affects just one breast but it’s not uncommon for it to occur on both sides
What to do?
- Get loads and load of rest: sometimes stress can predispose you to an infection. Getting some rest allows your body to fight off the infection. Also try to take in a lot of fruits, veggies, and fluids to supply your body with antioxidants.
- Empty your breasts often: keep the affected breast as empty as possible. It may be painful but just try. Not draining the breasts often will compound the infection even further
- Warm Compress: applying warm compress on your breasts before you nurse will help to loosen plugged ducts (if any) and soften the breasts a bit.
- Painkiller: paracetamol is the safest while breastfeeding. Take two 500g tablets three times daily to help relieve the pain
If symptoms do not clear or reduce within 24 hours, please visit your obstetrician/gynaecologists so you can be placed on an antibiotic regimen.