Breastfeeding Challenges: Mastitis

Mother breastfeeding baby in bed

When it’s hot outside, the last thing you need is breastfeeding trouble that leaves you with a fever and your breasts feeling hot to the touch. Mastitis can happen to any breastfeeding mother.

Mastitis is generally caused by too little milk being removed from the breasts. This can happen if your baby is having trouble getting enough milk, if you have too much supply, you’ve skipped feedings, or you have a blockage due to pressure on a duct or due to inflammation.

The heat and ache of mastitis can be intense. It feels a lot like having the flu.

Writing the cooling summer posts these past two weeks reminded me of one of my hottest, most miserable summers with my first baby when I had mastitis. That first baby is now a 16-year old. This week she was complaining, “My bra is so hot.” So, I reached into the refrigerator and showed her the trick someone taught me to cool my breasts during that hot summer. I gave her cabbage leaves to tuck into her bra and cool off.

Cooling off was one of the most important steps for me because it kept me calm so I could deal with the other steps.

  • Cool off.
  • Rest.
  • Get help.

Cool down

When you have hot breasts and fever in addition to the heat of summer, use a fan, mist water, even use the air conditioner if you need to do that to keep from adding to the heat burden. I found cabbage leaves straight from the refrigerator gave me temporary relief, like cool packs but without quite so much shocking cold.

Don’t stop breastfeeding

You need rest and hydration. Go to bed with your baby, and feed the baby frequently, emptying your breasts each time. Keep water nearby, and continue to sip while you are resting.

See a breastfeeding professional

Call a lactation consultant or talk to your local La Leche League Leader. The symptoms of mastitis and a plugged duct are similar. A professional can help you figure out the best approach specific to you, and it is very helpful to have that calming voice telling you that what you are experiencing will pass.

More information about the specifics of mastitis and the difference between plugged ducts and mastitis at KellyMom.com. La Leche League also has mastitis answers.

Image © Oksun70 | Dreamstime.com

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