Have I got flu or something?

Ten tips to help you avoid getting mastitis when you're breastfeeding

By Alexandra Smith

Everybody knows breastfeeding is cheaper than formula milk so it seems fair to give it some attention on Mum's Top 4 Tips.  One of the problems with breastfeeding is that mums can easily get mastitis so here are some tips on preventing the common infection:

1) Avoid getting too hot inside clothing as bacteria often thrives in warm environments and any milk which is lying next to the nipple area (or the natural bacteria that lives on your skin) may cause infection.

Say 'Ah.'
2) Change breast pads frequently or don't wear them. Alternatives to pads include breast shells with tissue in them (you'll see why) and a rolled-up Muslin cloth inside a support top but even these will need refreshed often.  It is equally as important to shower everyday. Don't use soap on nipples (just clean water) and make sure you dry the area well.

3) Make sure your baby has their mouth wide open when they're feeding. If your baby has trouble latching on like this then try to work more into their mouth as they feed.

4) Don't let anything restrict your breasts; especially while feeding. If your baby's hand is pressing on your breast for example, this can cut off the flow of a milk duct and cause a blockage. These blockages can become infected and cause mastitis.  Wear loose clothing and avoid bras or get a well-fitted nursing bra.

5) If you do get little blockages and have lumps often then address them while you're feeding your baby or expressing by massaging or tapping them gently with a finger.

6) Don't express or bother your breasts if they become engorged and full of milk. Engorgement does pass and your body is adjusting to what milk is required so, the more you express, the more milk it thinks it needs to produce. This will lead to continued engorgement which may cause blockages and infection. Also, avoid keeping your arms raised above your head (while sleeping for instance) as this can sometimes cause engorgement because the ducts have more room to fill with milk.  

7) Buy lots of muslin cloths (about 10). Even if you choose not to breast feed, you'll need them for when your baby is sick or dribbling. They wash and dry very quickly as well as taking up very little space.

8) Don't put off calling your GP for an 'emergency' appointment if you become feverish, have aching joints and feel ill because these are signs of infection. Mastitis is a bacterial infection so antibiotics can be prescribed and your pains will be relieved rather than worsen.

9) If you do get mastitis or you get a pain in your breast which you think may be the start of mastitis then continue to feed your baby. It may ache and sting at first but expelling the milk from the ducts and glands will help your body clear blockages and fight the infection.  Drink plenty of water for this reason too.

10) The soft delicate skin on the nipple area can become chapped when you first start breast feeding. Use a lanolin based cream to sooth and heal this (one you can leave on while baby feeds is best).  It is not a permanent complaint if your baby is latching on correctly (and not just sucking on the point of your nipple like a dummy or pacifier). However, scabs or dry skin on the nipple can prevent milk coming out and lead to blocked ducts so use lanolin straight away to avoid any chapped skin in the first place.  Ask a midwife or health visitor to show you how to position your baby while feeding; don't be afraid to ask more than one if you don't feel you've been shown correctly.

Do you have any more advice on mastitis or breastfeeding?  Please contribute in the comments below.

© This article and its photo(s) are the property of Alexandra Smith. Only use or reproduce with permission.

Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks V for the edit tip off - muslin cloths, not clothes!