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- Breastfeed often, and equally on both sides. Whether you choose to feed from both sides at each feed, or alternate one breast at each feed, make sure you give equal time on each breast. Even if your baby seems to favor one side over the other (all 3 of mine did!), it’s important to let each breast empty.
- Make sure you have a good latch. Your baby’s mouth should be open wide, and he should have more than just the nipple/areola in his mouth. His bottom lip should be rolled out slightly, and his cheeks should not hollow when he sucks. If you’re not sure if your baby is latched on properly, have a lactation consultant, OB or nurse watch you breastfeed to help reposition if needed.
- Check for any lumps/hard bumps. These are most likely clogged ducts and can lead quite quickly to mastitis. If you discover a clogged duct, massage it frequently and position baby with his chin towards the lump when feeding on that side, if possible.
- Clogged ducts. As mentioned above, if you have a clogged duct, you are at greater risk of developing mastitis. Check your breast frequently for these. They will typically feel like a hard pea, or marble.
- “Pulling” Sensation in breast when feeding. Not all over, as “letdown” can sometimes feel like a pulling/burning sensation. This is typically localized to one spot on the breast.
- Flu-like Ache. This is always one of the earliest symptoms for me. It begins at the base of my head and will radiate down my neck and shoulders. I also get electric-shock feelings in my joints.
- Redness on the breast. The skin of the breast begins to turn red and/or feel warm like a sunburn. This can occur with or without the presence of a clogged duct (or one you can feel, anyway).
- Fever. Anytime you develop a temperature after child birth, you should inform your doctor. A fever in conjunction with any of the symptoms listed above is a tell-tale sign of mastitis.
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- Feed, Pump and Express from the affected breast as often as possible. Hand express for a minute or two between feeds, in the shower, etc. You want to clear out the ducts as much as possible. It is still safe to breastfeed during mastitis. The milk is not infected.
- Massage the infected breast while feeding. If you have a clogged duct, massage the area several times a day, both during and between feeds. This helps break up the clog and get things moving along.
- Keep an eye on your nipples. If there is something resembling a scab or dry skin, remove it in or after the shower. This is caused by poor latching, and is what caused my first bout of mastitis (as opposed to a clogged duct).
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- Take your entire course of antibiotics. Even if you start to feel better and have no more symptoms after a day or two, finish the course.
Jennifer is your typical American wife and mother living life, raising kids, and working, only she’s doing it in Ireland. She has a deep interest in creative family worship, marriage enrichment, and pregnancy/birth education and support. Jennifer passionately loves the Lord, her family, music, dance, writing and chocolate. She writes at this gal’s journey.
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