I have been teaching postnatal workshops for many years here on the Hibiscus Coast for Parents Centre. This week during our online session a couple of questions came up from new mums looking for advice on Mastitis.
Mastitis is inflamation of the breast, usually associated with breastfeeding. Symptoms typically include local pain and redness. There is often an associated fever and general soreness. Onset is typically fairly rapid and usually occurs within the first few months of delivery.
Risk factors include poor latch, cracked nipples, use of a breast pump, and weaning. The bacteria most commonly involved are Staphylococcus and Streptococci. Diagnosis is typically based on symptoms. Ultrasound may be useful for detecting a potential abscess.
Prevention is by proper breastfeeding techniques. When infection is present, antibiotics such as cephalexin may be recommended.
Breastfeeding should typically be continued, as emptying the breast is important for healing. Tentative evidence supports benefits from probiotics. About 10% of breastfeeding women are affected.
Having luckily never suffered from Mastitis and only having a couple of suggestions I asked mums on our Facebook page for their help.
I am so glad I did as we have so many best-rated tips that have been tried and tested!
“Lots of Garlic, Echinacea, Vitamin c, rest, and a cabbage leaf in your bra, (sounds crazy I know, but it WORKS). I don’t know how or why it is so effective, but a cabbage leaf placed on the tender or hot spot calms down the pain and I’ve never seen any issues with supply!!! It helps with a blocked duct also!
I’ve had mastitis with each 4 of my 5 babies, this has worked fast every time!” Sarah Bernt
“Massive amounts of Vitamin c… Like until it’s got you running to the loo! Helped me avoid antibiotics twice! And also, filling up a hakaa pump with warm Epsom saltwater and attaching it to your boobs to drain milk clots. Massaging out any bumps. Rest rest rest.” Annie Scott
“Feed feed feed and pump in between. Massage it out in a hot shower. The first 24-48hrs are crucial to prevent the bugs from staying there, getting super sick with fever, and needing IVAbs.
If you can, hot flannel on boob before a feed and cold one afterward.”
Cold cabbage leaves for sure! Lots of water, gentle expression in the warm shower. Feed frequently, make sure baby is actually getting fore and hind milk. Heating pad before feeding can help flow better too. Also, Advil to help with the pain. Small amounts generally aren’t passed on to baby and will make nursing way more enjoyable!
Q: I always learned cold cabbage was to help with stopping milk production? Trina
A: Cabbage leaves can help lower the amount of milk, therefore help with the build-up and blockage of ducts, mastitis. My 2nd was only 5 lbs 9 oz. And I had mastitis because I was producing way more than she could drink. Cabbage leaves reduced production (only once or twice a day), and heating pads previous to feeding helped it flow easier.
‘Electric toothbrush on the affected area after the shower to remove blockage’ Sarah Kivlehan
Phytolacca! From the health shop – such a lifesaver for me!! Sarah Spittal
“Hot pack, gentle massage and feed, feed, feed on the sore side. This is for a tender spot on your boob. Once you get to the fever/ body ache stage get some antibiotics ASAP!! I have 4 children. For the last 2, I had my midwife give me a script for antibiotics just in case- I actually got the antibiotics and kept them handy. Lifesaver both times when I was stuck at home alone with toddlers and babies, no family support nearby, and a husband doing long hours at work. If you live rurally I would recommend you do the same.” Ashleigh Williams
Antibiotics for Mastitis
Antibiotics. If symptoms of mastitis have not improved within 24 hours or if the woman is feeling ill, antibiotic treatment should be started. Staphalococcus Aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci are the most common pathogens and flucloxacillin 500 mg QID is usually given.
“A women’s health physiotherapist can help with massage and ultrasound.” Sally Truman
“When I felt it coming on, I would immediately take raw garlic to help curb the infection. I would mince a clove, cover it with honey, hold my nose and swallow it, then chase it with water or juice. Maybe 2 x a day. I never had to get a prescription when I caught it early. And I second the advice for heat before nursing and after, and massage and getting the breast as empty as possible.” Carla Gregg
“The potato slice method. Had mastitis with my first two babes more than once and never used this method with them. Used it with my third at the first signs and never developed full-on mastitis.” Karlee Stewart
Potato Slice Method
Within the first 24 hours of your symptoms beginning, you may find that applying slices of raw potato to the breast will reduce the pain, swelling, and redness of mastitis.
- Cut 6 to 8 washed raw potatoes lengthwise into thin slices.
- Place in a large bowl of water at room temperature and leave for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Apply the wet potato slices to the affected area of the breast and leave for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove and discard after 15 to 20 minutes and apply new slices from the bowl.
- Repeat this process two more times so that you have applied potato slices 3 times in an hour.
- Take a break for 20 or 30 minutes and then repeat the procedure.
Please ensure you maintain in contact with your LMC/Doctor regarding your symptoms and the methods you are using to reduce/prevent.
There are so many more comments full of amazing tips if you wish to check out the full Facebook post.
Request for tips <3 What are your best tips to help new mums with Mastitis? TIA x