breast infection

Breast Infection: Mastitis Symptoms And Treatment

Discover what mastitis consists of, what are its symptoms are and how this breast infection can be treated.

The period of lactation is an essential and significant stage for mothers and babies alike. New mothers agree that it represents a moment of total connection with their little one, as well as being the source of nutrition the development of the newborn. This is familiar ground for mothers who breastfeed their babies naturally and those who choose the bottle from the very start.

However, certain complications can occur, more commonly in the case of natural breastfeeding. One of the potential health issues is mastitis, a breast infection, which can be very painful and can deter recent mothers from breastfeeding their baby. 

Before making any decision, we want to introduce some information about this infection; what it is, the different types that can occur, what are its symptoms and causes and, of course, treatment. In this way, you will see that mastitis is a temporary condition, which does not have to sever this special bonding moment between your baby and you.

Breast infection : What is mastitis? 

Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that causes pain, inflammation, heat, and redness of the breast. On occasion, it also causes fever and chills. This is a condition that occurs mostly in breastfeeding women (called lactation mastitis), as it happens mostly due to clogged milk ducts, but there are times when it can happen in women who do not breastfeed. 

In most cases, mastitis has its onset during the first six to twelve weeks after the arrival of the newborn, but it may also occur months later. Sometimes, this is the reason why mothers stop breastfeeding  their children, but in most cases, breastfeeding can be carried out without a problem (as long as you go to a specialist to treat this infection).

Types of mastitis

Although traditionally (and still to this day), specialists talk only of a specific type of mastitis, there is increasing research that suggests a classification of this infection based on the etiological agent that produces it.

Following these criteria, the breast infection known as mastitis is classified as follows:

  • acute mastitis
  • subacute mastitis 
  • granulomatous  or subclinical mastitis

Each type of infection has the primary etiological agent and associated symptomatology (we will look at the most common causes and general symptoms of mastitis in the next section).

Mastitis symptoms

Causes of breast infections
Breast infection - Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding.

The general symptoms of mastitis are diverse, and each case is unique, but there are some common aspects to take into account. During mastitis, one may experience symptoms such as:

1. Sensitivity and tender breasts 

2. Redness and/or swelling of the breast 

3. Feeling of continuous burning during breastfeeding 

4. Fever and/or chills

In most cases, the symptoms manifest only in one breast. 

Causes of breast infections 

Two main causes can develop this infection. One of them is  the obstruction of the lactiferous ducts. This happens when a breast does not empty when you breastfeed. At this time, one of the milk ducts can become blocked, pushing back the milk and causing the infection in the breast.

On the other hand, the second possible cause of mastitis is the presence of bacteria in the breast. This bacteria can originate from the skin of the mother or even from the baby's mouth or any other external sources. Bacteria enter the breast through small lesions or cracks in the surface of the nipple.

In some cases (less frequent ones), mastitis can also develop if the mother has a low immune system. 

Mastitis treatment 

The most crucial step in the treatment of breast infections is to address it as soon as possible. Sometimes, if the infection is in the initial phase, it may be enough to apply an ice pack on the breast and stop breastfeeding for a while (and use a breast pump instead).

However, if the mastitis is already in a more advanced stage, the main treatment is antibiotics that a doctor must prescribe. The treatment usually lasts about four or five days and can be accompanied by warm water baths in the infected area of the breast.

Health advice

breast infection
Breast infection -  Rest up and have plenty of fluids.  

In addition to early care and taking the prescribed antibiotic, different actions will facilitate the recovery process of mastitis.

1. Rest during the whole process 

2 Use a warm cloth before breastfeeding; this way, you will help start the milk emission

3. Start breastfeeding from the inflamed breast

4. Extract the milk that may remain in the infected breast after breastfeeding

5. Change the position of the baby during breastfeeding often

6. Make sure to position the baby so that it nurses correctly

We can now understand what mastitis is and recognize it as  a painful breast infection that, nevertheless, can be cured. You should not worry about the milk that the baby sucks as it doesn't have any harmful substances in it, so there is no chance of passing down the infection.

It is important to  go to the doctor as soon as any symptoms appear and take the necessary time to cure this infection properly. You can skip breastfeeding some days, but mastitis is not a reason to abandon it permanently (unless recommended by a specialist).

Check out the original article: ¿Qué es la mastitis? Síntomas, tipos y tratamiento de esta dolencia at