For women that have had mastitis or know someone that has it can be a really debilitating problem! It affects up to 33% of women and causes significant pain in the breast, flu like symptoms and difficulty sleeping from lack of comfy/supportive positions...I've been there and I can say first hand that its awful! Its usually treated by a trip to the GP, with a prescription of antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatories and you're sent on your way to wait for it to improve in a few days time. But what if I was to say that there are treatments options available that would cure it in 3 days or less that did not require any medications at all??? Read below!
So what is mastitis?
There are two causes of mastitis: Infective and non infective. Infective is caused by a bacteria that goes within the breast via the nipple and causes an infection to occur.
Non-infective mastitis is when breast milk leaks into the breast tissue causing an inflammatory response.
It is very difficult to determine the difference between infective and non infective mastitis if it is a one off as the body is fighting a foreign substance within the tissue (be it bacteria or breast milk thats not supposed to be there), however if a woman experiences mastitis or blocked ducts on multiple occasions it is more likely to be a non-infective type.
So what is the treatment for mastitis?
1. Lactation specialist
The first thing I would recommend if you experience mastitis or blocked ducts on several occasions is to get yourself in touch with a breast feeding specialist. This could be a local breast feeding councillor, the free NCT feeding line or a lactation consultant. They will to ensure that your latch is correct, positioning is ideal and your breast feeding routine is adequate to reduce your risk of blocked ducts or mastitis.
2. Avoid tight clothes!
This will squash the breast tissue which can cause further blocked ducts to occur. The body needs space to work to help remove the infection/ breast milk and should not be restricted if possible
3. Massage the area GENTLY!
The breast tissue that produces and moves milk to the nipple is very close to the surface of the skin. So firstly you don't need to press hard on the area at all to get results. It is not a muscle so it doesn't need firm pummelling to get the same response - if anything you'll make the problem more painful and potentially last longer. Gently massage the area to help reduce substances in a blocked duct or drain the breast of inflammatory fluids during mastitis which is what causes pain and redness.
4. Hot and cold
These can be a lovely method to help relieve discomfort. Using heat pads to gently warm the breast tissue and increase the blood flow to the area prior to a feed, will make the feed more effective at removing the blockage/ reducing mastitis. Following on using a cold compress afterwards will have restrict the tissues and reduce further spread of the inflammation
5. PHYSIOTHERAPY...wait what?!
Did you know that in Australia breast health physiotherapy is a standard part of treatment for post natal women...and it works wonders! Unfortunately that treatment option doesn't appear to have made it across the seas to be as readily available. However it is slowly growing in this country with a pioneering group of specially trained physiotherapists able to treat many breast health issues. I am happy to announce that Emily the Physio is one of those specialist physiotherapists! We treat mastitis with education, specialist massage, taping techniques and ultrasound giving almost instant reduction in pain as well as reduction of mastitis in 3 days or less! All techniques used are safe for breast feeding and require no added medications into the body unlike the usual treatment of antibiotics, pain killers and anti-inflammatories.
If you are struggling with mastitis, blocked ducts, or any other breast health issue caused by breast feeding then please get in touch!