Posts Tagged ‘Mastitis’

My Sports Bra Gave Me a Yeast Infection

Friday, October 24th, 2014

My Sports Bra Gave Me a Yeast InfectionYou’re getting dinner ready, or maybe you just got home from work or picking up the kids. You are just about to dive into that crazy evening routine of mealtime, bath time and bedtime, trying to get it all done by a decent hour so you can actually spend time with your spouse. By some miracle you have just enough time to get in a 30-minute workout at the gym, a yoga or zumba class, or maybe you’re ready to hit a trail for a quick run before the circus begins. Getting those 30 minutes to an hour to yourself each day is a big deal! But when you get home, you have to hit the floor running. You just got a workout in, and that’s a major victory. Who has time to shower afterward?

Not only is it not an indulgence to shower after a workout, it’s really necessary if you want to avoid a nasty yeast infection or even mastitis. The idea of contracting a yeast infection from your sports bra is something most women never even consider. If you are routinely active and wear a sports bra, you might want to take note.

Although some women experience thrush while nursing, many nursing and non-nursing women are shocked to learn that these types of infections can be fairly common as well as difficult to eliminate once they have started. It is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible if you suspect yeast might be a culprit. Delaying treatment will only prolong the pain, especially when nursing.

Sports bras are warm and damp places, especially right after a great sweat session, and they can easily trap fungi, bacteria, and viral infections.  This can be especially problematic if you are also nursing. Think you might have an infection? Some symptoms include red and itchy skin, sudden breast pain, as well as a burning sensation. Sometimes you may even think your nursling is biting you because the pain is so intense.

Common treatment involves the use of a topical anti-fungal cream that is applied externally as well as an oral medication that can be taken by your baby if you are nursing. Some homeopathic remedies include cleansing the nipples and then air drying in sunlight to dry out the skin. If you are nursing, frequently change your nursing pads and wash all pumping parts in a bleach solution to avoid spreading the infection or making it worse.

The best method for protecting yourself against these types of yeast infections is to remove and wash your sports bra immediately after exercising. It is also important to only purchase sports bras that are made of a cotton or dryfit material that allows your skin to breathe. The longer you leave your sports bra on, the better chance that it becomes a breeding ground for infections, especially if you live in humid conditions where moisture can become trapped all day. Using baby powder in your bra, or a combination of witch hazel and baby powder can help reduce the odds of attracting an infection.

Lastly, make sure your skin is completely dry before you get dressed to tackle the kiddos for bedtime. Showering isn’t a luxury, even thought it may feel like one sometimes. It’s a necessity for good health!

Tessa Wesnitzer is personal trainer and active mom of two boys who loves helping other mamas meet their personal fitness goals during and after baby!

The Fourth Trimester: When Mastitis Strikes

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

When mastitis strikes

I encountered my first bout of mastitis when my fourth baby was
5 weeks old. I breastfed all four of my children over a total of six years, and I can summarize the experience in exactly one word: TERRIBLE!

I was in bed in near tears because my body was so sore and achy. I would alternate between having the chills and a very high fever causing me to sweat buckets. I felt absolutely miserable, but was also desperate to clear up the infection without the use of antibiotics.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue. It generally starts as a plugged milk duct that becomes infected. The effected breast will be red, swollen, painful, and inflamed.

How is Mastitis Treated?

The very best form of treatment is a preventative approach. For example, avoid restrictive bras or clothing, empty your breasts completely at each feeding and/or pumping session, and nurse and/or pump on a frequent basis to avoid engorgement. Additionally, keeping stress levels low (yes easier said than done) is important, as stress can be a trigger for mastitis.

Even when all preventative measures are employed, mastitis can creep up on you rather quickly. A clogged duct can turn into mastitis within hours. At the very first sign you might be experiencing a clogged duct, make sure you pay attention to your body. Apply lots of massage and heat to the area and nurse, nurse, nurse.

When mastitis strikes, a common course of treatment is a round of antibiotics. While this can be effective, some moms may opt to treat mastitis without the use of antibiotics. I preferred to avoid the use of antibiotics and employed the following holistic treatment and comfort measures:

  • Rest – this is essential! Try to let go of everything else and focus on resting your body. This is definitely a time to call upon your support system for help. When I had mastitis, my mother-in-law happened to be visiting and my husband was home from work. This allowed me the ability to stay in bed for almost two days straight while my body healed. As mothers it can be difficult for us to let go of all the responsibilities nagging at us, but to the greatest extent possible allow yourself to rest so your body can heal.
  • Massage – Massage effected area frequently. You can massage with coconut oil or even a bit of arnica gel/cream (just be sure to wipe any residual amount away before baby nurses). As much as possible keep breasts moving; even jiggle them to help your milk flow.
  • Nurse – Continue to nurse your baby frequently and in varied positions. You can even massage the affected area while baby is nursing to try to release the clogged duct. Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! Babies are extremely effective in getting milk to flow so keep your baby close and nurse often.
  • Heat – Applying heat to affected area can help reduce inflammation and soften the tissue. You can take hot showers or use hot compresses before each nursing session.
  • Fever reducer – You may want to take something to reduce fever. This chart shows risk factors of medications while breastfeeding. Both Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are considered safe while breastfeeding. Homeopathic options such as belladonna may be something you consider exploring as well.
  • Boost Immune System – Vitamin C is a highly effective immune system booster. Some health care providers recommend a therapeutic dosage of Vitamin C (3000-5000 mg/day) to combat mastitis. Echinacea, green tea, zinc, vitamin B, garlic, and ginger also help boost immunity. I drank several cups of this garlic ginger broth when I had mastitis.
  • Stay well hydrated – Drink lots of water, especially if you are sweating due to fever. Keep a water bottle next to you as a reminder to keep consuming water.
  • Castor Oil Packs – Another alternative treatment option is a caster oil pack. This article explains how to do a castor oil pack as well as the benefits of doing them.

While mastitis is very challenging to cope with and definitely feels like a huge bump in the breastfeeding journey, know that it generally only lasts about 24 to 48 hours. Often it is our body’s way of telling us to S-L-O-W down. So listen to your body. Pay attention to this its message. And above all take the very best care of yourself as possible. After all you are nourishing another little person with your wonderful milk.

Please note: As with any health issue or concern it is always best to contact your health care provider regarding course of treatment.

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer. 

Natural Prevention and Treatment of Mastitis

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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.

Treating Clogged Ducts

Friday, March 9th, 2012

My 12 month old still wakes up to nurse about twice during the night; sometimes more, rarely less. However during a recent trip to Colorado he slept a full 12 hours without waking once to nurse (I blame the altitude). Now you might be thinking ‘wow, how wonderful! I must have felt so well rested after a full night’s sleep?!’ I wish that were true. Instead I woke up at 4:30 in the morning painfully engorged on the left side. I tried to wake my son up so I could nurse him, but he was so sleepy I couldn’t get him to latch on. I tried to hand express some milk but was unable to. So I tossed and turned until he woke up a few hours later. However by then I already had several clogged ducts! :( And boy did they hurt!

A clogged duct is when there has been an obstruction in milk flow either on the pore of the nipple or further back in the ductal system. The affected area will feel swollen, sensitive to touch, and generally uncomfortable. You can usually feel a hardened lump, or in mine case several lumps, where the duct was blocked. A clogged duct is not necessarily a serious condition in itself, however if not treated promptly it can lead to mastitis. So how do you get rid of those pesky clogged ducts and get the milk flowing smoothly again?

1. Nurse baby on affected side as much as possible. (Of course be sure to continue to nurse on both sides, or you’ll wind up with clogged ducts on the other side as well). You can also hand-express or pump milk to help keep breast as empty as possible. You might try experimenting with nursing positions to see if you can angle baby toward the effected area helping remove milk more effectively. This might include using gravity to your advantage to assist in unclogging the blocked duct by laying baby down and nursing over him/her.

2. Gets lots of rest! Your body is working hard and needs plenty of rest to heal, restore, and balance itself so you can continue to comfortably nourish your baby with your milk.

3. Drink lots of water! Staying well hydrated is always important for breastfeeding mamas, but is extra important if you are experiencing clogged ducts. Drinking plenty of water is actually a helpful preventative measure against getting clogged ducts in the first place. Having a refill-able, easy to drink from, and easy to clean water bottle is a must-have item for nursing mamas!

4. Eat lots of healthy immune boosting whole foods and consider taking immune boosting supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and omega 3 fatty acids.

5. Embrace your inner hippie and ditch your bra and other any constrictive clothing. Let your breasts move freely to help aid in the removal of obstructions.

6. Use heat and massage to help remove obstructions. You can take a hot shower and massage affected area by hand and/or apply warm compresses directly on affected area.

7. If you are very uncomfortable you might consider taking an pain reliever/anti-inflammatory (ie- ibuprofen) to help reduce discomfort. If symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, you might consider contacting your care provider. Many of the symptoms of a clogged duct are similar to that of mastitis, however mastitis is an infection that often needs to be treated with medication.

My clogged ducts lasted about 2 and half days. The most helpful treatment for me seemed to be hot showers and massage, as well as nursing baby frequently.

Have you experienced clogged ducts? What tips or suggestions do you have for effective treatment?

-Sarah