Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue found in lactating women. It may vary
in degree from a mild plugged milk duct to a severe infection or even abscess. The key to
treatment is early recognition and treatment of the problem.
Signs and Symptoms:
Elevated temperature, fever (mild is 99 degrees; of
concern is anything above 101)
Increased pulse rate
Chills, malaise, achiness, headache, nausea and vomiting
Painful, tender, reddened areas with hard lumps
A tender lumpy area (without other symptoms) is usually the first
sign of a problem. This is a "plugged duct" and is the result of milk (a prime
environment for bacterial growth) sitting in one place too long. It happens when the
breast is very full and does not get drained completely. This could be because the fit of
a bra is too tight in one spot (often while nursing) or the nipples are sore, so you avoid
one side too long. Other causes include cracking of the nipples or moisture from plastic
nursing pads. The first sign of a problem could also be waking up one morning with
"the flu". Many breast infections start this way so it's probably best to assume
that's what it is and seek treatment.
Early recognition and treatment of a blocked duct, yeast
infection (thrush in baby), cracked nipples, etc. Proper fitting bra and frequent changing
of breast pads (preferably cotton). Adequate sleep and nutrition to support proper
functioning of the immune system. Regular and frequent nursing on both sides with proper
positioning of infant. Ask if unsure! Relaxed position and good support while nursing help
assist good milk letdown (which can help "wash out" an infection before it
Mastitis is extremely serious and can progress rapidly (because
bacteria grow so well in that milk!). We treat aggressively from the onset. At the first
suspicion of mastitis, go to bed (though I may not require it for a plugged duct) and call
me!. Attention to the prevention measures above can speed up the healing, too. Increase
fluid intake, nurse frequently (and in several different positions to ensure complete
drainage of the affected area), and take your temperature every four hours. Avoid sugar,
except as fresh, whole fruit. The following suggestions are my basic approach and I may
add other things as necessary:
Vitamin C - as much as 500 mg
Echinacea - 1 dropper every 2
Vitamin A -
up to10,000 iu daily of these things together in one tablet. Take 2 tabs 4x daily.
Zinc - 30 to
50 mg daily
Pokeroot - 5
drops 4x daily or as a cream applied topically.
Make a potato
poultice and apply that to the infected area as it will help draw out the infection.
Grated potato works well (but may be too messy); sliced is adequate usually. Cover the
potato over well or it will stain. Ginger tea applied warm with a cloth can increase
circulation and healing also. Some use cabbage leaves, too.
though we may start with it if the infection "got away from you" quickly,
League can be a great source of breastfeeding support. Call