Beware of Mastitis, Obstacles for Breastfeeding Mothers

Mastitis is one of the most common complaints experienced by breastfeeding mothers. This condition usually makes mothers who are breastfeeding feel uncomfortable to the point of pain when breastfeeding.

Mastitis in breastfeeding mothers is caused by inflammation of the breast tissue. The causes also vary, such as infection, clogged milk ducts, to several other triggering factors. For this reason, these conditions must be treated and prevented so as not to interfere with the process of breastfeeding between mothers and babies.

The following is a review of mastitis and how to overcome it, which has been summarized by

Illustration when the breast is experiencing mastitis. (Photo: Special)

Definition of Mastitis

Mastitis is an infection of one or more of the breast ducts. This condition is usually associated with breastfeeding and can cause severe pain if not detected and treated promptly.

This infection caused by breastfeeding is also known as lactational mastitis. Mastitis is one of the many problems of breastfeeding mothers and breastfeeding challenges.

Although cases of mastitis often occur in nursing mothers, women who have never given birth and breastfeed and women who enter menopause can experience it too.

As many as 2-3 percent of breastfeeding women develop mastitis within the first 6-12 months after giving birth or during breastfeeding.

Causes of Mastitis

In general, mastitis is caused by several things that are prone to be experienced by breastfeeding mothers.

1. Clogged milk ducts

Before breast milk (ASI) is released by the nipple, breast milk goes through a long process until it can finally provide benefits for both the baby and the mother. The milk produced by the mammary glands, including exclusive breastfeeding, is then channeled through the milk ducts until it ends up in the last place, namely the nipple.

Under certain conditions, these ducts can become blocked, causing milk to accumulate in the breasts. The more the amount of breast milk that accumulates, of course, the more risky it causes inflammation.

This may be because the buildup of milk triggers indirect pressure, such as forcing or pushing milk into a blocked duct.

The presence of blockages in the milk ducts do not just happen. Non-latching baby sucking factor (latch on) with the right on the nipple during breastfeeding can make the milk ducts blocked so that it becomes the cause of mastitis.

This sucking factor can be influenced by the baby’s problems while breastfeeding such as tongue-tie or abnormalities in the tongue. Getting used to suckling on one breast can also lead to clogged milk ducts.

2. Bacterial infection

If the blocked milk duct does not involve bacteria, the cause of mastitis due to infection is certainly triggered by the presence of bacteria. Bacteria are common on everyone’s skin, but they’re actually harmless.

The bacterial infection that causes mastitis can enter the breast tissue because the skin on the areola or the area around the nipple is damaged. On the other hand, blocked milk in the milk ducts can also lead to infection.

Not only that, the bacteria that cause mastitis can also move from the baby’s mouth to suck the nipple, especially if there are sores and gaps in the nipple. As a result, bacteria can easily enter and trigger infection in the milk ducts.

3. Other causes

Apart from blockages in the milk ducts and bacterial infections, there are other things that can cause mastitis, because there is a possibility that mastitis can be experienced by women who are not breastfeeding.

For women who have not given birth and are breastfeeding, this condition is referred to as periductal mastitis. Periductal mastitis can be caused by an infection in the breast. This infection begins with the appearance of chronic inflammation at the bottom of the nipple. As a result, the nipple can hurt, hurt, or create fissures, which makes it easier for bacteria to get into them.

Usually, this periductal mastitis occurs in women aged 20-30 years. Meanwhile, mastitis experienced by women who enter or have gone through menopause is known as ductal ectasia mastitis, because the ducts located inside the nipples become wider and shorter with age.

Mastitis Trigger Risk Factors

The condition of mastitis can also be influenced by several risk factors, including:

1. Have had mastitis before

2. Are breastfeeding during the first few weeks postpartum

3. Nipples hurt and hurt like cracked

4. Often use a bra that is too tight

5. Putting excessive pressure on the breasts, such as using a seat belt too tight or carrying a heavy bag that hinders the flow of milk

6. Severe stress and fatigue

7. Inadequate daily intake of nutrients

8. Smoking

9. Always use one position to breastfeed the baby

Generally, mastitis is a condition commonly experienced by breastfeeding mothers, especially when the milk does not come out completely from the breast and instead accumulates inside.

An illustration of one of the symptoms of mastitis is a blockage that makes the breast feel sore.  (Photo: Special)
An illustration of one of the symptoms of mastitis is a blockage that makes the breast feel sore. (Photo: Special)

Symptoms of Mastitis

The following are a series of mastitis symptoms to watch out for, including:

1. Swollen breasts

Swelling of the breast is one of the most visible symptoms of mastitis. Indeed, breast size usually tends to increase during breastfeeding. However, this change in the size of an enlarged breast is different from swelling due to mastitis.

2. A lump appears in the breast

The appearance of a lump in the breast that causes pain can be a symptom of mastitis. Sometimes, swelling of the breast can also be accompanied by the appearance of a lump. Breast lumps as a symptom of mastitis are caused by thickening of the breast tissue.

3. Breasts feel sore

Pain and heat are also the main symptoms in breasts that have an infection in the milk ducts. This discomfort can happen at any time.

However, when the mother is breastfeeding the baby, usually the pain and pain will get worse, including when touched.

4. Breasts turn red

The appearance of lumps and swelling in the breasts is also explained by the reddish color of the breast skin like an irritation rash. In fact, when the breast is touched there are some areas that feel hot.

5. Itchy breasts

In addition to feeling painful to the touch or not, other symptoms of mastitis also cause itching in the breast area.

6. There is a sore on the nipple or skin of the breast

Mastitis caused by a bacterial infection usually occurs due to a small wound or gap right on the nipple or in the breast area around the nipple.

These wounds or gaps then make it easier for bacteria to move and enter the breast, causing this condition.

7. There are red stripes on the breasts

Along with the swelling of the breasts, the mother may notice the appearance of several red lines on the skin of the breasts. This condition can occur due to inflammation of the tissue in the breast. The various supporting symptoms of mastitis are as follows:

-Fever or an increase in body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more.

-The body feels cold and shivers.

-Severe fatigue.

-Stress and anxiety.

– Uncomfortable feeling in the body.

How to Overcome Mastitis for Breastfeeding Mothers

If mastitis is experienced by a breastfeeding mother, there are things that can be done to overcome it, such as:

1. If you have mastitis, you should breastfeed your baby as often as possible with the correct breastfeeding position so as not to increase breast pain. If you delay breastfeeding or switch to formula, this can make mastitis symptoms worse;

2. If you are not breastfeeding, you can pump breast milk by hand. For mothers who have mastitis, it is not recommended to pump using a device because it will aggravate the pain.

3. Wear a bra that is loose and comfortable when breastfeeding. We recommend using a bra made of cotton that absorbs sweat.

4. Compress the breast with warm water to reduce pain, this usually makes the mother more relaxed, and facilitates the flow of milk so that blockage is reduced.

5. Gently massage the breasts to facilitate the flow of milk and help mothers relax more.

6. Make sure to always consume nutritious food and drink enough water. In addition, get enough rest while the baby sleeps, it will help restore the mother’s condition.

7. Ask the doctor to prescribe pain and fever relievers that are safe for breastfeeding mothers to consume. In addition, nursing mothers can be prescribed antibiotics. However, this can make the baby more restless and fussy.

Overcoming Mastitis the Natural Way

In addition to overcoming mastitis in the previous way, there are natural ways that can be done to overcome it, which include:

1. Essential oil

Essential oils can help with mastitis. For example, tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Nursing mothers can apply the oil topically by diluting it with a carrier oil, such as olive or almond oil.

However, the use of this oil should not be careless, especially when breastfeeding. Tea tree oil can be toxic if ingested, so be sure to rinse any areas of the breast that may be in direct contact with the baby’s mouth during breastfeeding.

Illustrations of onions can also be used to treat mastitis.  (Photo: Special)
Illustrations of onions can also be used to treat mastitis. (Photo: Special)

2. Garlic

Garlic has natural antimicrobial properties that stimulate the immune system. Garlic can be eaten raw, mixed with food, or taken as a supplement.

4. Consumption of Vitamin C

Vitamin C aids in wound healing and helps replenish antioxidants in the body. Vitamin C can be obtained from supplements or foods rich in vitamin C. These foods include oranges, bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, and many others.

How to Prevent Mastitis

Illustration of routine breastfeeding can prevent mastitis.  (Photo: Special)
Illustration of routine breastfeeding can prevent mastitis. (Photo: Special)

To prevent the occurrence of mastitis, breastfeeding mothers can do good habits such as the following:

1. Breastfeed the child alternately using the right and left breasts.

2. Empty the breast to prevent swelling and blockage.

3. Use good breastfeeding techniques to prevent sore nipples.

4. Allow sore or cracked nipples to dry.

5. Make sure to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

It is no less important to make sure to maintain cleanliness during breastfeeding such as washing hands, cleaning the nipples, and keeping the baby clean.


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