MASTITIS, ENGORGEMENT AND BLOCKED DUCTS
“Breastfeeding is natural but it is not always easy” (Bergmann et al., 2014). Your physiotherapist can help you succeed with breastfeeding and help manage complications if they arise.
What are some conditions that effect the breast?
Between days 2 and 6 after your baby is born your milk ‘comes in’. You may find your breasts become larger and feel heavy, warmer and slightly uncomfortable. This is normal and will settle down as you and your baby adjust to breast feeding.
In some cases, a mother’s breasts can become hard, swollen/tight and tender and her nipples become flattened. This is engorgement and is caused by a build-up of milk, blood and other tissues in the breast. It can be painful for the mother and also make it difficult for the baby to attach.
Ducts bring the milk to the nipple openings. These ducts can get compressed and cause a blockage; the milk then accumulates behind the blockage. A lump forms and it may be tender to touch, your breast may also have some redness. Bruising, swelling, hurried feeds, poor positioning, poor attachment, nipple soreness, tight or poor fitting bra and finger compression can cause a blocked duct.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue. This may or may not be accompanied by infection (WHO 2000).
Non infective mastitis is often a result of engorgement or a blocked duct that hasn’t cleared. This banked up milk leads to an inflammatory response (red, swollen, hard, painful breasts) and then becomes an immune response – feeling unwell, fever, muscle aches.
Infective mastitis is often caused by staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The infection results in pain, swelling, redness and fever/flu-like symptoms. It is often associated with cracked and fissured nipples, allowing bacteria to enter the breast from the nipple.
It is important to see your GP if you have any flu like symptoms.
Try to ensure on demand and uninterrupted feeding.
Probiotics Recommendations (we recommend Qiara Pregnancy & Breastfeeding) which contains a probiotic strain, isolated from breastmilk.
2) THERAPEUTIC ULTRASOUND: Engorgement, blocked ducts and Mastitis can be assisted with therapeutic ultrasound. You need to feed straight after ultrasound, so it is helpful to bring your baby with you for your appointment so you can feed straight after treatment.
2) LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE AND MASSAGE TECHNIQUES: Adding a sequence of gentle massage techniques can help improve symptoms e.g. gentle stroking of the breast towards the nipple before feeding to encourage the let down reflex.
Note: Massaging your breast too hard can compress the surrounding unaffected milk ducts increasing the inflammatory response, making your symptoms worse.
3) HEAT AND COLD: Using heat before the feed to help the milk flow and cold packs between feeds to reduce swelling is helpful. A wet flannel in a zip lock bag kept in the fridge or cabbage leaves are helpful.
4) REFERRAL: We can liase and refer to local lactation consultants/GPs to address any issues such as damaged nipples, latching, tongue ties and breastfeeding issues that may be contributing to your symptoms.
5) AVOID: Avoid wearing restrictive clothing or tight bras. Be gentle with handling your breast. Ensure you are in a well supported and comfortable position to feed and baby is well positioned on your breast.
Your physiotherapist can show you different ways to hold baby to help empty your breast – some woman can only feed using the cradle hold – but other options can include the football hold or side lying. Get to know your breast and self assess your after feeding to check for blocked ducts.
Contact us today if you need any assistance with feeding. Mumma's we are here to help!
SPECIALITY WOMEN'S HEALTH
PREGNANCY OR POSTNATAL PILATES
Want to stay active during your pregnancy or use Pilates to build strength post-partum? We welcome you to join our Pilates classes.
Staying active and becoming involved in regular exercise in pregnancy and during the post-natal period offers a great deal of benefits. Our equipment, reformer or mat Pilates classes will help you to keep healthy and strong throughout your pregnancy and ease you back into exercise following the birth of your baby and beyond.
Pregnant? Prior to the commencement of these classes please complete a 30 minute initial consult with one of the physiotherapists who can assess your posture, pelvic floor muscles and screen for modifications in class.
Post-partum? In order to begin these classes we recommend a 6 week postpartum review with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist where they can use real time ultrasound to assess pelvic floor.
Pre/Postnatal Exercise Classes: Wednesday 11am.
Please contact the clinic for more info on how to join a class.
All consults are claimable through private health insurance.
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