Natural Prevention and Treatment of Mastitis

Natural Prevention and Treatment of MastitisUnfortunately, mastitis is one of the most difficult things that a breastfeeding mama can face. These infections stem from a clogged milk duct and can come on quickly. Signs of mastitis include intense, hot pain in part of the breast along with swelling. You’ll also feel tired and achy, almost like having the flu and usually accompanied with a fever.

Some causes of mastitis include cracked or bleeding nipple, stress, missed feedings or long intervals between feedings–especially during weaning.

Prevention. Make it a point to switch sides often and allow your baby to nurse as long as needed on one breast before switching sides so that you’re not left with excess milk that can create a clogged duct. To avoid engorgement, don’t wait too long between feedings and make sure to pump if you’ll be away from your baby for long stretches of time. Also try to avoid sleeping on your stomach or wearing tight-fitting bras or tops to bed–try keeping your breasts from being compressed.  Supplements such as vitamin C and lecithin can help prevent recurrent plugged ducts, which lead to mastitis.

Treatment. Resting and nursing with skin-to-skin contact are the most important things you can do. Applying heat to the area before breastfeeding can help break up the milk pocket. As painful as it may be, massaging the breast toward the nipple during breastfeeding and between feedings can also help loosen the clogged milk pockets. Cold cabbage leaves applied to the breast can help reduce the pain and burning; but unless you’re trying to wean don’t apply them more than four times a day for an hour at a time, since cabbage is known to decrease milk supply.

Antibiotics are the most common treatment for mastitis. Since antibiotics can wreak havoc on your guts and natural immune system, your best bet is to take steps to prevent mastitis and/or trying some natural solutions during the early stages. If it gets progressively worse you shouldn’t hesitate to visit your doctor.

Immune Boosters. It’s very important to keep your immune system boosted while you’re going through this.  Elderberry syrup is a great immune booster and can help you fight infections. Raw garlic is one of the most effective natural antibiotics and you can take up to five cloves a day. I like to chop them up and mix them with a spoonful of hummus.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

Tags: Breastfeeding, clogged ducts, Mastitis, natural solutions, natural treatments, nursing

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