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Breastfeeding? How To Avoid Mastitis This Winter

Posted on: December 9, 2010

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Mastitis is a breast infection that sometimes affects nursing moms. Sometimes it starts out as a plugged duct that isn’t resolved, other times mom gets mastitis when other family members catch a cold.

While mastitis doesn’t require weaning nor is it a serious health condition, mastitis can be very uncomfortable and make a mom feel as if she has the flu. Mastitis is also very common around the busy holiday season, since moms are often extremely busy and may not be nursing their baby as frequently.

Here are some tips to help you avoid mastitis and treat it if you notice symptoms.

Nurse often

Nursing your baby frequently and not skipping feedings is very important to keep the breasts from getting overly full. This is sometimes a challenge for moms who are visiting relatives and feel uncomfortable nursing in public, or when baby is getting passed along from person to person and is distracted. Try using a sling or nursing cover if this is the case, or taking baby into another room where s/he can quiet down and focus on feeding.

Drink and eat well

Don’t forget good nutrition and keeping hydrated. Being inside a lot with forced air heating tends to dehydrate you, so be sure to drink enough water. Eating healthy whole foods and minimizing sweets will help you avoid colds and flus, which sometimes turn to mastitis in nursing women.

Get enough rest

Getting enough rest is very important during busy, stressful times. Sitting down to nurse is a great opportunity to get some rest! Nap with your baby if you can.

Mastitis often starts out as a plugged duct, so if you feel a hard, sore or hot spot on your breast, immediately start self care measures to clear it. Getting extra rest is important, as is breastfeeding frequently to drain the breast well. Taking hot showers and massaging the area is also helpful. Starting at the armpit, massage gently down towards the nipple. You may notice thickened milk or even “crystals” coming out of the breast, which means the clog is clearing.

If you develop mastitis, you may feel feverish and achy in addition to the above symptoms. Get to bed immediately with your baby and nurse as much as you can, especially on the affected side. This won’t harm your baby and weaning now is the worst thing you could do, since it will make the infection worse and deprive your baby of the benefits of the antibodies in your milk as well as the comfort of nursing. Try to vary your nursing positions to drain the breast evenly.

If you’re not feeling better after a day or two of rest, massage and frequent nursing, call your health care provider, La Leche League leader or Lactation Consultant for more advice.

For more information on preventing, treating and avoiding mastitis, visit http://www.sexynursingbra.com/mastitis.html

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