While nursing is a wonderful experience for many mothers, mastitis most certainly is not. In fact, mastitis sucks! This painful infection is common in those who breastfeed and stems from a backup of milk in the breast’s milk ducts. Typically, if a milk duct becomes clogged for any reason and becomes infected mastitis can occur. It can also occur if the baby isn’t latching correctly or favors one breast over another.
While this issue might be common, that doesn’t make it less painful. When you first develop mastitis, it may feel like you’re coming down with the flu. A fever accompanying breast pain may be your first symptoms of mastitis. You may also notice your breasts are warm, red and tender, and they may begin to swell. While many seek the help of a doctor and antibiotics, and you totally should see your doctor, there are many home remedies that can help you treat this painful infection.
Scientists are finding that probiotic Lactobacillus strains are an excellent alternative. These strains possess anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce swelling and prevent mothers from developing recurrent problems.
In one study, more significant bacterial reduction occurred after 21 days in women taking probiotics than those taking antibiotics. Plus, a recurrence of mastitis was more common in those who took the prescribed medication. Thus, probiotics may be ideal alternatives to treating and preventing the infection.
Drinking lots of water is an essential and effective home remedy for mastitis. Staying hydrated increases your milk supply, which makes breastfeeding easier. Plus, the more you pump, the less likely you are to experience a blockage. Drink enough H2O so that you can nurse regularly, work out blockages and keep everything flowing normally.
After the birth of your baby, when your body is in the milk production stage, you should nurse or pump every three hours to alleviate tightness and keep your hungry baby fed. If you develop mastitis, you’ll want to nurse even more often.
Lay in bed with your baby, which promotes skin on skin contact, encourages them to nurse and allows them to eat as long as they want. Once they lose interest, turn to pumping. Continuously pushing milk through your ducts will help remove and prevent blockages.
You can also alleviate blocked milk ducts by massaging your breasts. I know, it might sound kind of weird, but it’s super effective. Work your breast in small circles or towards the nipple while your baby is nursing. Massage sore spots in between feedings to help loosen the blocked duct. If you’re feeling lumpy, climb in the shower and massage until you alleviate pain.
While you’re in there, make sure the shower is warm. The temperature will help reduce some of the pain. You can also apply warm compresses or a hot water bottle before nursing to help the milk flow more smoothly.
Another option is to alternate between warm and cold compresses, a method that will reduce breast engorgement. For a cold compress, you can place chilled cabbage leaves in your bra — useful and stylish!
Lecithin is an additive you can find naturally in foods like eggs and cooked broccoli. Doctors typically recommend a dosage of 1,200mg four times per day as a preventative measure for breastfeeding women.
This dosage comes in capsule form for easy ingestion. It also saves you from eating hundreds of eggs every day. Although scientists aren’t exactly sure how the stuff works, they surmise that lecithin may reduce the stickiness of breast milk by increasing its fatty acids.
You might also consider eating raw garlic. While this won’t help your breath, it will help your tender breasts! Since garlic is a natural antibiotic, it can help you fight off mastitis and prevent reoccurrence without prescription medication. For best results, eat five raw garlic cloves a day on a full stomach. You can also incorporate it into your diet each day.
Between poopy diapers and waking up to nurse in the middle of the night, sleeping is nearly impossible for new moms. Yet, getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night is essential to keeping your immune system in good shape.
If you don’t get enough rest, you’re at a higher risk of contracting a cold, the flu or mastitis. Take naps throughout the day or let your SO bottle feed with pre-pumped breast milk while you’re snoozing.
At-Home Mastitis Treatments for New Moms
Both you and your baby experience benefits when you decide to breastfeed. Don’t let mastitis bring you down. Consider these at home mastitis treatments should you ever come down with this sucky breast infection.