Mastitis

What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is the inflammation of breast tissue, often caused by a blocked duct, that can lead to infection. It can be VERY painful and not a welcome issue for a new mum!

Symptoms of Mastitis include:
– Redness/soreness over an area of your breast
– Fever
– Flu like symptoms (feeling generally unwell)
Possible Causes of Mastitis:
– Poor attachment during feeding
– Long breaks between breastfeeds
– Breasts that are too full
– Blocked milk ducts
– Stopping feeding too quickly
– And sometimes just rotten luck!

Treatment/Management:
– Breastfeed often and start with your affected breast. Milk is still safe for your baby to drink if you have mastitis. This may help to unblock any blocked ducts.
– Drink plenty of water during the day (up to 8 glasses).
– Apply warmth to the sore area of the breast just before a feed (this will help with milk flow), followed by cold after the feed to help with pain relief and inflammation.
– Massage the breast gently during a feed, trying to massage towards the nipple.
– Breastfeed in a position that allows gravity to assist with the milk flow. For example, if you have a blocked milk duct on your right breast, lie on your left side or vice-versa. You can also speak to an Australian Breastfeeding Association counselor for other ideas on breastfeeding positions.
– Hand or pump express if your breast is still feeling full after a feed.
– Rest, rest, rest. This helps your body fight off infection and recover.
– If your symptoms don’t ease over 24 hours or your symptoms are worsening consult your doctor. They may prescribe you antibiotics which will treat the infection.

Physiotherapy for Mastitis
– Massage – gentle massage can help break down the blocked duct and encourage milk flow. We can also teach you self-massage techniques.

– Therapeutic ultrasound – the use of ultrasound has been shown to be helpful in increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation and helping break down tissue in a variety of conditions. While there are few clinical studies to support the benefits of ultrasound and mastitis, some Physiotherapists find it can deliver fast and effective results to help unblock ducts and reduce pain.  (NB: at Bend + Mend, we don’t offer ultrasound as a treatment for mastitis)

– Education – advice regarding appropriate feeding positions and self-management techniques to help prevent and manage future episodes.

References:
Australian Breastfeeding Association. (2018). Mastitis. [Accessed 23 Jan. 2018].
Hospital, T. (2018). Mastitis. [online] The Royal Women’s Hospital. [Accessed 23 Jan. 2018].
Lavigne, V. and Gleberzon, B. (2012). Ultrasound as a treatment of mammary blocked duct among 25 postpartum lactating women: a retrospective case series. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 11(3), pp.170-178

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