Mastitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of breast tissue that may or may not stem from an infection. For many years, Mastitis was thought to be only caused by infection, but more recent studies have shown that milk stasis is the leading cause of Mastitis.
Milk stasis occurs when milk is not removed from the breast efficiently. This may occur when the breasts are engorged soon after delivery, or at any time when the infant does not remove the milk that is produced from part or all of the breast.
Milk stasis can be caused by poor attachment of the infant at the breast, ineffective suckling, restriction of the frequency or duration of feeds, or blockage of milk ducts.
Mastitis occurs in around 10% of lactating mothers and most commonly occurs in the second or third week of lactation. 95% of cases occur within the first 12 weeks of lactation however, it can occur at any stage whilst lactating.
How does Mastitis present?
Symptoms of Mastitis include local pain and tenderness, redness, as well as increased warmth of the breast tissue and flu-like symptoms at the systemic level. These flu-like symptoms can include a temperature, headache, temperature sensitivity and achy sensations around the body.
Some women will feel like their breasts become uncomfortably tight, swollen and painful and that their milk is not flowing as easily as before.
How is Mastitis treated?
Early signs of Mastitis can be treated at home with the Mother resting as much as possible and continuing to feed from the effected side regularly.
If you have a fever, it is advised that you seek medical advice form your doctor as they will culture some of your breast milk to determine if there is an infection or not. Doctors will often prescribe anti-biotics as well as some form of analgesia for pain management.
Other therapies that have shown to be effective are gentle lymph massage around the breast and armpit, application of ice packs or heat packs and warm showers. Therapeutic Ultrasound has also been shown to aid in the management of Mastitis.
Here at Fitwise, we are a centre for women’s health, specialising in post-natal Physiotherapy. We can support you with specific management plans and advice around managing Mastitis, as well as providing therapeutic ultrasound for the reduction of symptoms associated with Mastitis.
For more information, or to book, click on “Make a Booking” at the top of the page or call our friendly team on (03) 9822 4999 (Armadale) or (03) 9486 0512 (East Melbourne). Alternatively, you can email us at [email protected] if you have any questions.