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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Kowal

Do I have mastitis?


Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue. It can be caused by a blocked milk duct or bacteria in the breast growing at a faster rate than normal (usually due to "clogged" areas not letting milk out). Bacteria is always in the breast tissue but when we have cuts or other damage to our nipples, additional bacteria has a gateway and when infection brews, inflammation can keep the milk from flowing. This is why its very important to work to correct a painful latch as soon as possible. Inflammation can also happen from too much pressure being used during massaging of the breast. Never massage your breasts with more pressure than you would your own baby.


Symptoms of mastitis include a hot, swollen, and painful breast, often accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever and fatigue. If you believe you have mastitis, the general approach has been that if you can resolve the "clogged" area in the breast to help the milk flow better within 24 hours, you may not need to take further action. And typically, if you are not seeing improvements within 24 hours, you might contact your midwife, OB/GYN or primary care physician who will likely prescribe a 10 day treatment of antibiotics.


In order to protect gut health of mother and baby, many people wish to avoid antibiotics. There are alternatives to antibiotics such as homeopathic remedies, hot and cold compresses, gentle massage and lymphatic drainage and these remedies should absolutely be utilized at the first signs of mastitis and generally do not require physician clearance.


Here are some helpful tips to manage your symptoms:


Homeopathic Remedies

Many lactating parents swear that phytolacca and belladonna can alleviate the symptoms of "clogged" breasts or mastitis in hours. If you are unsure of how homeopathy works or you need more information, please reach out to your homeopath, lactation consultant or other holistic minded provider. TheHealingNarrative.com offers online consultations!


Continue breastfeeding and/or pumping!

Emptying the breast is crucial for resolving mastitis. Do not cut back on frequency of milk removal even though you might be feeling terrible. To leave milk behind might trigger more "clogged" areas and inflammation making things worse.


Rest and Hydrate

Your body needs extra support to fight off infection and to restore itself to wellness even if you don't have an infection. Be sure you are well hydrated at about 2-3 liters of water a day. Cut back on sugar and processed foods and aim for nourishing foods that are easy to digest.


Warm Compresses and Massage

Apply warm compresses to the affected area and gently massage the breast to help alleviate pain and encourage milk flow. One way to do this is to take a dish towel or hand towel and soak it with hot water under the faucet. Wring it out and place over your breasts and then gently massage through the towel. Check out this link for a lactation friendly style of lymphatic drainage. There are many others on YouTube but most are directed specifically towards those recovering from breast cancer. The intention and techniques are the same. You can also look into castor oil compresses which many people swear by.


Consult a Professional

If symptoms persist or if you are experiencing recurring bouts of mastitis, always seek advice from a lactation consultant who can provide guidance tailored to your situation. Reach out to us at the number below if you are having mastits concerns.


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