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Lactational Mastitis: Symptoms, Prevention & Cure

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Lactational Mastitis
Lactational mastitis is a condition that occurs withing 2 to 3 weeks of parturition in some new mothers. Needless to say it one of the many lactation problems associated with breast feeding or weaning away of the baby from breast milk. It is believed that about 2-10 percent women may be affected by Lactational Mastitis during the nursing period so it is fairly common.

The symptoms of mastitis are not hard to detect. Here are the obvious ones.

Symptoms Of Mastitis:

  • Infection: Lactational mastitis is basically nothing but a breast infection . It occurs most commonly due a complication called 'plugged duct' in medical terms. This means that the milk ducts that lead up to the nipple from the milk glands are partially or fully blocked. It could also be caused by sudden weaning away or excess production of milk in the mother's body.
  • Inflammation: Usually the most prominent symptom of mastitis is the swelling and reddening of an area of the breast. The area of inflammation is hot and painful. If untreated this area starts increasing.
  • Bleeding and Cracked Nipple: The infection causes microbes usually get entry into the breast through the opening of the nipple. Due to the stagnation of milk in the ducts or nipple they get a favourable medium for growth. Thus the nipple may to swollen and tender. In worse cases there might also discolouration, peeling of skin and even bleeding.
  • Fever: The new mother who is a victim of lactational mastitis may get 'chills' like we do during a viral infection. It a common symptom to have some temperature, about 100 to 102 degrees due to the infection. High fever is uncommon but not unheard of in severe cases.
  • Lumps of Milk: the mother may feel grainy or lumpy milk being discharged from her breast. If you use a pump it is possible to see it too. This discharge is very painful for the mother.

Treatment of Mastitis:

  • If the symptoms are severe then there no option in medical science but to give antibiotics. The antibiotics will cure it like any other infection. But breast feeding while on antibiotics is prohibited.
  • Any antibiotic of the penicillin variety will but do not take them without the doctors advice. Only a practicing physician can know the correct dosage for your condition
  • Treatment of mastitis by natural methods is also possible. Firstly, you need to continue breastfeeding so that more milk does not accumulate in the breasts. If the baby is finding it difficult to suck then use a hand pump to pump out the milk.
  • Then put hot and cold compress alternatively on the inflamed area. This is how mastitis was treated before the advent of medicine. It is advisable to do a hot oil massage before breastfeeding to liquidate the milk to make it easier for the baby to feed.

Lactational mastitis is curable, you just have to follow to these tips to detect it.

Read more about: postnatal, breastfeeding
Story first published: Monday, September 19, 2011, 14:26 [IST]
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