Infection While Breastfeeding - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Infection While Breastfeeding

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Are you a lactating mother? Are you facing difficulties while breastfeeding your newborn baby? Did the doctor diagnose him with the onset of breast infection? If yes, reading the post can be a great idea!

Breast infections are prone to occur in the delicate phase of breastfeeding. You may experience extreme uneasiness like breast pain or nipple crack, which could inhibit you from feeding your little angel. Here, we look at some of the causes and symptoms of breast infections while breastfeeding.

What Is A Breast Infection?

A breast infection or mastitis occurs in the breast tissues of your body and commonly occurs during your breastfeeding phase. The harmful infection affects the fatty tissue of your breast and initiates unbearable conditions like:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Lumps
  • Severe pain
  • Clogging of milk ducts

According to numerous researchers, almost 1 out of every 10 lactating mothers experiences a breast infection. The occurrence of breast infections occurs in the first

three months after your childbirth.

Mastitis during the delicate phase of breastfeeding also refers to lactation mastitis or puerperal mastitis. You may experience lactation mastitis along with severe fever and chills. The condition may make you feel a bit low, and you may not feel comfortable enough to feed your baby (1).

Causes Of Infections While Breastfeeding:

The infection of lactation mastitis triggers the clogging of the milk ducts. During breastfeeding, the harmful bacteria enter your baby’s mouth to the milk duct and clog the pores.

About 1%-4% of lactating mothers develop the condition of mastitis during the first three months of their childbirth. The condition of incomplete breast emptying or engorgement can further make the condition worse, and you may suffer from severe breast pain and soreness.

Some of the major causes of infection while breastfeeding include:

  • Blocked milk duct: After breastfeeding your baby, if your breast is not empty the milk ducts can become clogged. The stagnant breast milk can trigger the growth of breast infection, and you may experience terrible pain.
  • Bacteria entering through baby’s mouth: Bacteria residing on your baby’s skin surface or mouth can predominantly enter the milk ducts, through a crack in the nipples. As soon as the bacteria reach your milk ducts, they are blocked, and you may encounter severe breast pain or swelling. The anti-bacterial property of the breast milk protects your newborn baby from the harmful infection (2).

Symptoms Of Infection While Breastfeeding:

Breast infections during the lactation phase can trigger numerous unbearable health discomforts in your body, such as:

  • Swelling or soreness of the breast
  • Body pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever accompanied with chills
  • Pain or burning sensation while feeding your baby
  • Redness and warmth of the breast
  • Breast engorgement
  • Abscess- Sometimes the condition of lactation mastitis becomes worse with the onset of the breast abscess. The noncancerous masses grow beneath the surface of the breast skin. Some of the indications to indicate that the breast abscess has grown into serious infection are: pus ejected out from the nipple, tender lump felt around the breast or persistent fever (3).

Diagnosing Infections During Breastfeeding:

Some of the recommended medical tests to diagnose the condition of lactation mastitis or breast abscess are:

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound detects the presence of an overgrown lump or mass The ultrasound probe moved around your breast and can detect the extent of growth of the solid mass. If the ultrasound test confirms that you are a victim of breast abscess; the treatment incorporates surgical drainage and IV antibiotics.
  • Mammogram Or Breast Biopsy: The following test can diagnose the severity of the breast infections and whether the condition has reached up to breast cancer (4).

Treating Infections While Breastfeeding:

Some of the treatment procedures to treat breast infections in your lactation phase are:

  • Antibiotics: The doctor may prescribe intake of antibiotics to treat the condition of fever and chills. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotic medication, for better results.
  • Pain Relievers: Your doctor may recommend intake of pain reliever medications including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), to reduce the symptoms of severe breast and body pain.
  • Changing Your Breastfeeding Technique: You may also need to modify your breastfeeding technique and follow proper sitting posture while feeding your baby. Ensure you empty your breast so that no stagnant breast milk is left behind and trigger the condition of lactation mastitis. Your doctor may ask to change your breastfeeding technique.
  • Self Care: You need to follow a healthy regime, take complete rest and drink plenty of fluids, to prevent the onset of breast infections and feed your baby safely (5).

Preventing Infections While Breastfeeding:

To control the unavoidable condition of lactation mastitis, follow some healthy preventive measures:

  • Feed your baby at regular intervals and ensure to empty the breast completely. Proper emptying can prevent clogging of the milk ducts and prevent bacterial growth.
  • Breastfeed your baby from both the breasts equally and do not use the same breast all the time.
  • Follow proper breastfeeding techniques and sitting postures to prevent nipples crack or soreness.
  • It is important to hydrate your body during the delicate phase of lactation. Drink plenty of water and fluids, to enhance breast milk production.
  • Follow healthy hygiene habits like washing your hands with medicated soap, cleaning the nipples and keeping your newborn baby’s mouth or skin clean and tidy. Healthy hygiene can prevent bacterial growth on both you and your baby’s body, and the infection would not enter your feeding breasts (6).

With such effective precautionary measures, you can inhibit the entry of harmful bacterial infection. By staying healthy in your lactation phase, you can feed your newborn baby reluctantly and keep him safe from disease-producing germs.

Did you suffer from infections during your breastfeeding phase? What medications did your doctor prescribe? What preventive measures did you follow?

Share your complete experience about breast infections with other mommies here! Leave a comment.