Breastfeeding is wonderful and natural, providing nourishment for babies and cuddle time for moms. It even helps moms lose those baby pounds faster. But sometimes it can also bring engorgement, which leads to pain and sometimes mastitis. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that involves enlargement, swelling, lumpiness, and pain in the affected breast. It can lead to flu-like symptoms and localized redness and tenderness, and even worse, to an abscess that will have to be removed or drained.
The conventional treatment for mastitis has been antibiotics and many women have discontinued nursing because of this. However, there are many natural and easy options for treating mastitis that still allow you to nurse. Here are some tips to prevent and treat this very common condition in breastfeeding moms:
1. Empty your breasts: Let your baby feed completely from one side of the breast before switching over. After your little one is done nursing, pump the breast to completely empty it. The more often you nurse, the less chance there will be of mastitis occurring. This is also a great way to increase your milk supply.
2. Warm baths, showers and compresses: This helps decrease inflammation and unclog the milk duct, as well as help with pain. Try massaging the area, as well.
3. Cabbage leaves: Believe it or not, this is one of those home remedies that really works. Place a slightly crushed, cool cabbage leaf in your bra. This will help drain the duct and reduce infection.
4. Echinecea: This is an immuno-stimulator and assists the body in fighting off infections.
5. Get plenty of rest. Although this may be easier said than done, try to sleep when the baby sleeps.
If you follow these steps and are still experiencing pain and inflammation, contact your doctor. If you do decide to take antibiotics, make sure that you supplement with a probiotic to combat some of the side effects, like diahrrea. (Your baby may also experience diarrhea because antiobiotics pass through breast milk).