Mastitis can quickly ramp up the stress of post-partum life and having a new baby. As a new mom, you’re dealing with post-labor body, latching your baby, and potentially mastitis, a condition that you might not even know you have it. You may chalk up your symptoms to fatigue and the post-partum journey.
But what exactly is mastitis? According to the University of Michigan, it’s an inflammation in the breast that is the result of an infection. It is most often caused by breastfeeding a newborn, and commonly materializes within the first six months of nursing. Common mastitis symptoms include pain in the breast, redness and warmth on the surface of the breast, chills, fever, and body aches. Symptoms of a worsening infection include swelling of the lymph nodes near the infected breast, an increase in heart rate, and flu-like symptoms.
Left untreated, mastitis can cause a breast abscess. The illness must therefore be treated immediately by a doctor, as recommended by the Cleveland Clinic. On top of medical treatment, however, you may want to use at-home remedies to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Home remedies for mastitis include compresses, lanolin, and frequent breastfeeding
Treating mastitis at home can help significantly reduce painful symptoms. As pointed out by Healthline, your doctor might recommend that you take over-the-counter pain medications to reduce symptoms. On top of medication, Healthline and the C.S. Mott Children Hospital have some helpful tips that could make dealing with mastitis a little easier.
First up is essential oil. Try applying an essential oil, such as tea tree oil, to the outside of the breast. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and will most likely help with inflammation. You can try applying clean, dry cabbage leaves to the sides of the breast, or give applying a lanolin-based cream to the nipple a go. Lanolin is produced by wool-bearing animals and is non-toxic to mothers and babies, via Very Well Family, and will alleviate dryness and cracking. You can also try wrapping the breast in both hot and cold compresses.
Contrary to what you may have thought, it’s important to continue breastfeeding if you have mastitis. Emptying your breasts regularly will help clear milk ducts. Plus, your milk is safe for your baby to consume even if you have a breast infection. You should also try to change your feeding positions, which can help dislodge clogs and drain all areas of your breast. With careful treatment and the right guidance from your doctor, you will hopefully be able to eliminate the illness and prevent future infections.
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