What Are the Symptoms of Mastitis?

Breastfeeding can lead to some discomfort from tenderness to swelling. How can you tell whether this discomfort is normal or the result of a breast infection? If your breast feels extremely painful or is overly inflamed, this could be some mastitis symptoms which are common in the first six weeks of breastfeeding. While the condition often only effects on breast, you'll want to learn more about this condition and what to do for relieving the discomfort with it.

What Are the Symptoms of Mastitis?

While it is more common for mastitis to occur around the second or third week after birth, it can occur at any point when breastfeeding. This usually affects only one section of one of the breast and the symptoms can come on suddenly.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Hard or tender lump on the breast
  • The lump is warm to touch
  • Redness of the overlying skin
  • Feeling tired
  • Muscles aches
  • Nausea
  • Fever

How to tell if it is infective or non-infective mastitis?

Infective and non-infective mastitis can be hard to distinguish since the signs and symptoms are similar. Typically a doctor will need to determine if it is infective or noninfective.

Antibiotic can be used to treat infective mastitis which is more commonly diagnosed becaue nipple damage can increase the likelihood of bacteria entering the breast.

When should you see a doctor?

If you find a lump, you should call your doctor immediately, even if you are not breastfeeding. If you have these additional symptoms, you're strongly recommended to call your doctor.

  • Abnormal discharge from the nipples
  • Pain in the breast that makes regular function difficult
  • Breast pain that is prolonged and unexplainable
  • Redness, swelling, or pain that makes it difficult to breastfeed
  • Tender lump or mass that does not go away after breastfeeding

Consulting your doctor when you have any of these symptoms is vital to begin the proper treatment.

When breast pain is accompanied by additional mastitis symptoms, you may need to be evaluated at the emergency room. If your healthcare provider is unable to see you or you have these symptoms, you should go to your nearest hospital's emergency room for evaluation.

  • Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vomiting or nausea that prevents you from taking your prescribed antibiotics
  • Pus leaking from the breast
  • Red lines or streaks that extend towards the chest or arms
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling fainting

What to Do If You Have Mastitis

1. Drugs

Most mastitis is treated with antibiotics. These are usually taking for two weeks even though you may feel relief after two days. Pain relievers may also be recommended such as an acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

2. Rest

Getting plenty of sleep can help treat mastitis. Be sure to rest with your baby close by which can encourage more feedings.

3. Fluids

You want to make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, to help fight off the infection.

4. Support

You want to make sure you wear the right bra when you are treating mastitis. You want a comfortable bra that also provides adequate support.

5. Breastfeeding

Continue to breastfeed as you typically would, but be sure to empty the breasts regularly. Avoid the breast becoming overfilled by pumping if necessary.

Can You Breastfeed with Mastitis?

Yes, as what have discussed above. Even though it may be painful to breastfeed, it is an effective way to treat and relieve mastitis symptoms. Breastfeeding will help keep the milk supply up and for most babies, the milk is perfectly fine to drink. Utilize these tips to breastfeed while also using other treatment methods for mastitis.

1. Start with your sore breast

Since babies will be the hungriest at the beginning of each breastfeeding session, you want to start with the affected breast first. To help the milk flow, message or pump before letting your baby latch.

2. Effective latching

You want to ensure your baby is in the best position when breastfeeding. You baby should be drinking for the duration of the nursing session and if he/she is not, then you may need to adjust the latch. Working with an IBCLC (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners) can help you know the best position for your baby to ensure the most effective latch while feeding.

3. Frequent feedings

Milk is being continuously produced when you are breastfeeding and you want to make sure there is not much pressure building up in the breast. Breastfeeding often, about every two hours or whenever your baby is hungry, will ensure you have a constant supply of milk. Pumping may have to be done to empty the supply of milk in the breast when feeding is not possible.

4. Positioning

You want to make sure your breasts are emptied completely when nursing which may require a change in positioning. Your mastitis symptoms can be relieved more quickly when you try new positions when nursing.

5. Double check your breasts

Before and after nursing, you want to check your breasts so the milk is fully drained after nursing. The breasts should feel lighter and softer when you are done nursing, and if they are not, you may have to pump to empty the breast. If the breast feels tender or painful or there is redness after three feedings, you will want to consult your doctor.

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