Breastfeeding: Breast infections

Beating breastfeeding infections and their challenges.

Breastfeeding is the safest and simplest way to feed babies. The list of benefits for mom, baby and family is long. Unfortunately mothers sometimes run into problems that make it difficult to continue breastfeeding. One of these problems is breast infection. Below Michigan State University Extension will discuss how breast infections occur and how to treat them.

Breastfeeding women may experience breast soreness or pain because of plugged ducts and breast infections. These can be painful, but treatments are available to get rid of them quickly. Continued breastfeeding is the best medicine. This will prevent the plugged duct or infection from getting worse, plus it helps speed your recovery.

Breast infections are commonly referred to as mastitis. The most common causes of breast infections are plugged ducts and bacteria entering the milk duct through a crack in the nipple. The infected breast will generally have a painfully engorged area that is hot and tender to the touch. You may run a fever and feel achy.

The first sign of a breast infection is enlargement and redness. An infected breast is usually larger than the other breast. The lymph nodes running toward you armpit may also be enlarged. Your breast may be red or pink. You may experience discomfort. An infected breast usually feels sore and itchy. You may also experience tissue changes. Often, a lump will develop. The skin of the breast may also develop red streaks. You may experience fever along with developing chills, nausea and vomiting.

The most important treatment is to nurse your baby. Go to bed, rest and keep your baby close to continue breastfeeding. There is no danger of the baby becoming ill from nursing at the infected breast. Continuing to nurse helps clear the infection faster. Nurse frequently and for long periods to promote milk removal. Offer the infected side first at each feeding. Apply heat to the infected area between feedings. Call your doctor immediately, especially if you are feverish. Your doctor will probably prescribe an antibiotic.

Early identification and treatment of plugged ducts will prevent most breast infections. Being anemic, overtired or highly stressed will increase your chance of infection. Good overall nutrition, lots of rest, good hygiene and emotional good health will all help to prevent and infection.

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