Mothers, we know that mastitis in most cases is a very painful and uncomfortable experience. So, let us help you!
First, we will talk about what it is and then give you some remedies which can reduce inflammation and relieve pain:
Clogged milk ducts
Clogged milk ducts can be identified as small, red tender lumps on the tissue of the breast. Clogged ducts can cause the milk to back up and lead to infection (called Mastitis).
Clogged milk ducts are most common in women who are breastfeeding, have recently given birth and opted not to breastfeed, or have recently stopped breastfeeding.
Blocked ducts are more likely to occur if a breastfeeding woman does not thoroughly drain the breast as this can allow milk to accumulate and block the duct. Some ways to help with this is:
- Regular, consistent breastfeeding is the fastest way to resolve a clogged duct.
- Using a breast pump to express milk after each breastfeeding session can help if the baby has a weak latch or cannot drain the breast entirely.
- You should also keep pressure off the duct by making sure your bra is not too tight.
- Applying a heating pad or warm cloth for 20 minutes at a time. Allowing hot water to flow onto the breasts in the shower can also be beneficial.
- Soaking the breasts in warm Epsom salt baths for 10–20 minutes can help unclog.
Mastitis occurs when breast tissue becomes inflamed as a result of an infection.
The causes of mastitis include:
- Trapped breast milk – If the breastfeeding technique is incorrect, then the breast may not fully empty. This trapped breast milk can cause breast soreness and potentially lead to infection.
- Clogged milk duct – If a milk duct becomes clogged, a buildup of milk may occur. If the blockage is not treated, a breast infection may follow.
- Bacteria – Bacteria from your skin and your baby’s mouth can enter the milk ducts through a break or crack in the skin of the nipple or via a milk duct opening.
The symptoms of breast infection include severe pain or soreness, hardness of the breast, redness of the breast, heat coming from the area, swelling, or even chills.
You should always make sure that breast infections are treated promptly and completely or you may risk the chance of abscess. An abscess is very painful, involving throbbing and swelling. You’ll also experience swelling, tenderness, and heat in the area of the abscess. If the infection progresses this far, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
If the pain is so bad you can’t feed, try using a pump while laying in a tub of warm water with your breasts floating comfortably in the water.
In the meantime, the following natural remedies can also help speed up recovery and ease symptoms. If you are breastfeeding, do remember to wash off any herbal remedy that you apply before a feed so your baby does not ingest it.
1) Continue To Breastfeed Or Express Milk If You Are A Nursing Mother
Many women will stop breast feeding or expressing during an infection, although it is actually best not to. By emptying the breasts, you will actually help to prevent clogged milk ducts.
2) Rest Up
Take plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids (water and coconut water are best) as your body fights off any infection and recovers.
3) Heat and Cold
Apply heat for 15-30 minutes before nursing to help loosen the blockage in the duct and make nursing easier. Then apply ice after nursing for 15-3o minutes to bring the swelling down.
4) Apply Calendula Ointment
Calendula has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory agent. Studies indicate that calendula has antibacterial and healing properties too. Apply an ointment with this beneficial ingredient to help relieve mastitis.
5) Apply Cabbage Leaves
Women have been using cabbage leaves to relieve breast engorgement for ages. Studies have shown that women who apply cabbage leaves report less engorgement than those receiving routine care.
To use this remedy: Wash green cabbage leaves thoroughly and remove or crush their veins. Put the cold cabbage leaf directly on the breast over the site of the infected duct. Change every hour as needed. (NOTE: Some women notice a decrease in milk supply from using cabbage leaves, so be careful with this remedy)
Continue this till the swelling subsides. Some women also recommend using cold cabbage leaves for easing pain, so let the leaves chill in the refrigerator for a bit before you use them.
6) Turmeric Paste
Turmeric paste is a traditional remedy for tackling mastitis. Studies show that curcumin, an important antioxidant present in this spice, has potent antibacterial properties. Curcumin also has an anti-inflammatory effect since it inhibits a number of molecules that play a role in inflammation.
In one study, application of a curcumin cream significantly reduced markers of mastitis like pain, breast tension, and irritation within 72 hours. The treatment also had no side effects. Mix turmeric powder with a little water to make a thick paste and apply it to your breast. Rinse off after 15-20 minutes.
Another natural remedy that has potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties is aloe vera. Crack open an aloe vera leaf and scoop out the gel inside. Or use a really pure organic aloe vera gel. Apply it to your inflamed breast to experience its healing effects.
8) Vitamin C
9) Marshmallow Root Bath
The roots of marshmallow or Althea officinalis have anti-inflammatory properties. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered marshmallow root to a quart of boiling water and allow the solution to steep and cool overnight. Add this solution to a basin of warm water, immerse your breast in it and massage gently. This will ease pain and inflammation.
10) Raw Garlic
Garlic is not the best for baby’s tummy, however, it does wonders for infections. One way to consume this is to finely mince the garlic and then scoop small amounts up with a spoon, put it in your mouth and quickly chase with some water.
All the best Mama!