Many common complaints in the postnatal time can be traced back to the new mother trying to do too much. The weeks after giving birth need to be a time for healing and rejuvenation. We need to encourage mothers to slow down and take the necessary time to heal, rest, bond with their baby and accept nourishing support from others.
One such postpartum complaint, mastitis, can arise when women are trying to do too much, too soon. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue and can be caused by engorgement, blocked milk ducts or infection.
Typical symptoms are; fever, chills, dizziness, nausea, headaches, weakness and general flu-like symptoms. There is also usually pink streaking or a reddened area and the affected breast will feel uncomfortable and very sensitive. If you think you may be getting mastitis, be sure to call your care provider.
Useful Tips To Help Avoid Mastitis
- Be sure to wear loose tops and either no bra or a bra that fits well and is not too tight
- Be sure the baby is positioned correctly and latched well for feeding
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach or with your arms/elbows compressing your breasts
- Try to get plenty of rest
- Be sure to eat well and keep up your fluids
- Stay warm
- Slow down and ask for help
Treatment For Mastitis
- Try to feed frequently. Baby should continue to nurse on the affected breast or use a pump to empty the milk. You may want to hand express in the shower
- Gently massage the blocked ducts
- Use heat packs or cold compresses depending on what feels the best
- Stay in bed if you can and try to rest
Useful Natural Remedies
- Homeopathic phytolacca and belladonna 30c are very effective if used in the early stages. See a naturopath or homoeopath for more advice
- Vitamin C 500mg every 2-4 hours
- Cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon in 1 TB of water and swallowed). This warms the centre and circulates blood and chi
- Propolis, echinacea, probiotics and garlic to help the immune system
- A ginger poultice (grate two inches of ginger into a piece of muslin, tie the bag and immerse in hot water, wring out and apply to the affected breast five or six times a day
- A potato poultice – used freshly grated potato and apply to the breast for 20 minutes (remove when it warms up)
The Mind-Body Connection
Breasts are related to our ability to give and receive nurturing. Clearly, asking for what you need and try this affirmation “I am important. I count. I now care for and nourish myself with love and with joy. I allow others the freedom to be who they are. We are all safe and free.” – Louise Hay, Heal Your Life Please be gentle with yourself and ask for the help you need. Hang out in your bed in your pyjamas and continue feeding your baby. Set yourself up so you can easily have a drink of water, tea or miso soup and have everything you need nearby so you can rest without getting up.
Call Your Midwife Or Doctor If:
- You have a fever and it is rising and/or
- You feel progressively sicker as the hours go by, as you may need antibiotics
Early treatment means you can heal quicker. You can also call the Australian Breastfeeding Association on their 24-hour helpline: 1800 686 268.