Mastitis is either inflammation of the breast tissue or a bacterial infection of the breast tissue. Both can have the same symptoms of temperatures, red, hot, tender breast and generally feeling unwell. Mastitis can start with a blocked duct and proceed to mastitis. It is common in the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding usually as a result of damaged nipples and improper drainage of the breast.
Mastitis is a debilitating condition and quite scary for mothers. You can be fine and then the next hour fall in a heap. It is important to contact your lactation consultant or doctor for assessment. You may need antibiotics or symptoms may gradually subside. If you have symptoms that are not subsiding in 24 hours then seek help.
If you have the above symptoms it is important to keep breastfeeding to keep the breast drained and rest. Start feeding on the affected side first at each feed time to help drain that side. You can use warmth to loosen the breast for feeding and cold after a feed for 10mins.
The problem with mastitis is the recurrence rate. Once you have had it your breast tissue may form some scar tissue and you can be prone to blockages and mastitis. Treatment today is a course of antibiotics; however, these will treat the symptoms and infection but will not treat the lump. It is the lump that needs to be worked out and cleared so a recurrence does not happen.
Massage is what will clear the lump and not only massage of your breast but massage of your muscles around your breast to stimulate your lymphatic system to take away the infection. Your breasts are full of milk, blood and lymphatic fluid. Blood makes milk and lymphatic fluids are taken back to your lymph nodes under your arm pit. Milk comes out your nipple and lymph goes back. Therefore massage on the lump alone may not clear it you need to stimulate the other structures. Massage your breasts using the tips below:
- Start by lifting your breast up off your chest, this will allow you to massage into your breast tissue without pushing tissue on tissue.
- When massaging use the pads of your fingers and work in a circular motion around the whole outside of your breast then and inner circle and so on until you cover the whole breast. When massaging your breast will shake and this will help to loosen the lump.
- After you have massaged your whole breast you need to sweep from under your breast to your armpit with firm pressure, repeat this 3 times. This will help push your lymphatic fluid back to the lymph nodes for your body to deal with the infection.
- You can also massage at the top of your breasts where your PEC muscle is. Use smoothing strokes from the centre of your chest to your shoulder on a 45 degree angle. Your PEC muscles get very tight and constrict blood flow to your breast. See diagrams
For further assistance with mastitis please contact me and I can help you with the massage and teach you more about how to incorporate this into your daily breastfeeding routine to prevent mastitis.