Mastitis is a breast inflammation which starts by an infection penetrating the breast through the milk guiding channels from the skin surface into the breast’s interior. It appears very suddenly, usually about 2-3 weeks after delivery and it tends to start on one breast. It is possible for this condition to affect both breasts.
It’s relatively easy to recognize mastitis, as the mother’s general health condition shifts. Temperature of the body will exceed 38.5°C with fever and excessive exhaustion, weakness and lack of appetite. The breast will turn red, hot and larger. Skin above the infected tissue may be tense, smooth and glossy. Above all it is necessary to differentiate mastitis from overload of the breast which is a bit difficult since some of the symptoms overlap each other. Mastitis is an inflammation which requires medical intervention while breast overload is in action quickly after delivery, indicating lactose generation. In case of this, the general mother’s health doesn’t change in any aspect and the body temperature remains on normal levels.
In case of mastitis, alveoli may burst under the sudden surge of milk which has nowhere to go. This is when a bit of milk may enter the blood stream and this can cause an immunological reaction. Pulse, body temperature and many other fever-like symptoms will occur. The breast is then inflamed, painful and red. It may be red on specific parts or as a whole.
In case of a non-bacterial mastitis it is possible for it to transform into a bacterial one if there is no treatment done. Regular treatment will make sure that the higher body temperature is gone in about 24 hours, pain should be relieved in about 48 hours while the hardness of the breast should diminish in a couple of days.
In order to make sure your breast remains functional at all times, you should take a comfortable position while nursing – one of the ways to do this is to put baby’s chin towards the place of inflammation so that by sucking it actually massages the breast as well. Another way you can do this is to lay the baby down on a blanket on her back while the mother can then get on all fours to nurse the baby that way. By doing so, gravity will aid your milk channels to work the way they should.
Breast massages can be done on the painful area during and after nursing. Use your palm to apply pressure on the painful area, giving enough pressure for you to manage to handle it as the pain reduces. Once you feel the pain going away, use more force and repeat this process until the pain is almost completely gone. The painful area can also be treated a couple of minutes with warm bandages, hot water battle, warm shower etc. You shouldn’t do any of these longer than a couple of minutes as this can improve the inflammation and swelling.