Breastfeeding Mastitis Causes and Symptoms

Being aware of the breastfeeding mastitis causes, helps one better understand the treatments options and why mastitis occurs in the first place. The medical term mastitis refers to the inflammation of the breast tissue which most of the times is caused by breastfeeding, the reason why it is also called lactation mastitis. In rare cases, mastitis is caused by different factors than breastfeeding. Mastitis and breastfeeding are therefore two terms that are often seen together.

It is common that breast feeding mastitis appears within the first three months postpartum, but this does not exclude the possibility of breast feeding mastitis occur later during breast-feeding. The first signs of breast infection include breast tenderness, general malaise or just feeling ill, redness of the skin, swelling of the breast and pain which can be experienced permanently or only during breastfeeding. A common symptom of mastitis is fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher. Although infection can affect both breasts, in most cases mastitis affects only one breast.

Breastfeeding Mastitis Causes and Symptoms

Breastfeeding Mastitis Causes and Symptoms

There is a main cause that leads to mastitis in breastfeeding. The infection is usually caused by bacteria from the skin or the baby’s mouth that enters the milk ducts through skin lesions of the nipple through the opening of the nipple. Once bacteria has entered the milk ducts the multiply, leading to the symptoms of the condition. Mastitis and breastfeeding often makes it difficult for the mother to care for her baby, especially due to the pain that worsens during nursing.

Although mastitis can be cured and it is not itself a severe medical condition, it can lead to complications. The disease tends to recur as many mothers who have suffered from the condition developed it again with a further child. Recurrence is mainly due to delayed treatment or inadequate treatment. Milk stasis can happen when the milk is not completely drained from the breast, which will lead to more pain and inflammation. The most serious complication that can arise is the formation of an abscess in the breast which requires surgical drainage.

Mastitis in breastfeeding is treated with antibiotics and self care remedies and adjustments to the breast feeding technique are often considered. Antibiotics are normally prescribed for 10 to 14 days and it is mandatory that the patient follows the instructions and takes the entire course of medication to prevent recurrence. Patients are advised to rest and continue breastfeeding and also to empty the breasts regularly. It is important that the patient empties the breast with each feeding. If treatment proves inefficient, patients are strongly recommended to check back with the doctor as the same symptoms can be developed in a rare form of breast cancer which is called inflammatory breast cancer.

The main ways to prevent developing mastitis are by making an appointment with a lactation consultant who can provide advice on how to proper breastfeed, draining completely the breast while breastfeeding and by alternating the breast the mother offers first at each breastfeeding.

To conclude, mastitis is not a very severe medical condition and it carries a good prognosis especially if treated on time and adequately based on the breastfeeding mastitis causes.


March 2015

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