My breast feels hot and hard. Is this mastitis?

It could be. Many cases of mastitis begin with a hard knot in the breast. Often this hard spot is caused by a clogged milk duct.

What is a clogged duct?      Breast milk contains a variety of fats and proteins so that it is complete nutrition for your baby. The fats and proteins are different shapes and sizes. Sometimes they get tangled and get stuck in the milk duct. Most clogs release from the breast with frequent nursing and/or pumping. If your baby releases the clog while nursing, it is perfectly safe. Your baby will not have digestive upset from nursing out a clog.

What is mastitis?      Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue. It may or may not be caused by a bacterial infection. Mastitis is a relatively common condition. Women who suspect mastitis should keep nursing and seek treatment. Mastitis that is caused by infection is in the breast tissue, not in the milk. The milk is safe for the baby.

Common first aid recommendations for mothers experiencing the symptoms of clogged ducts or mastitis:

1. Keep nursing the baby. Frequent nursing is the best treatment. The milk is perfectly safe for the baby.
2. Rest. Mastitis tends to escalate more frequently in mothers who are over stressed. Staying in bed with your nursling has amazing benefits.
3. Drink plenty of clear fluids, just as you would with a cold or flu.
4. Apply heat to the affected area. Heat helps increase blood flow to the area and open the milk ducts so clogs can pass. A hot shower is a great place to hand express. Nursing directly after applying heat is beneficial as well.
5. Ibuprofen is a known anti-inflammatory that is compatible with breastfeeding. Contact your health care provider to discuss appropriate dosing.

Some mothers explore home remedies and traditional medicines. lavender

– essential oils massage oil: blend 1 part eucalyptus, 2 parts lavender, and 3 parts chamomile. Apply oil over skin, avoiding areola and nipple. Massage in. Cover with moist heat for 20 minutes. Repeat 3-5 times per day or until clog releases.

– herbal compress: chamomile is a known anti inflammatory. A chamomile tea bag can be used as a hot wet compress over the affected area.

– potatoes: grated raw white potato is said to draw out infection when placed over infected area

garlic– garlic: Garlic is considered naturally antibiotic and anti inflammatory. One study showed that babies nurse more when moms are taking a garlic supplement.

-lecithin: lecithin is a dietary supplement that is purported to keep fats smooth and flowing in the milk. A dose of 4000 mg is commonly recommended. Lecithin is derived from either soy or sunflower.
What to avoid

1. Cold. Ice or cool packs cause constricting.
2. Tight fitting bras or clothing.
3. Doing too much
4. Alcohol

Antibiotics are very effective in treating bacterial mastitis. Drugs from the penicillin family are commonly given to treat this condition. Amoxicillin and many others are very safe for breastfeeding. There is no need to wean to treat this condition, and evidence shows weaning during mastitis exacerbates the condition.

The information provided on this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure. Always contact your health care provider and LC to work as a team during illnesses while breastfeeding.

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