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Mastitis in a nursing mother: symptoms and treatment

Mastitis is the thing most feared for women who have given birth to little happiness in the form of a son or daughter. Inflammation of the mammary glands often occurs in the first 3 months after birth. However, in the subsequent time, the probability of mastitis, although somewhat reduced, but still represents a constant threat.

How not to miss the first symptoms of mastitis in a nursing mother, what to do and what treatment can be prescribed by a doctor? All responsible questions should know the answer to every responsible mother who wants to preserve her own health and protect her baby from negative impact.

Disease of mastitis is an inflammation of the lobules of the mammary glands due to infection in the milky ducts (see photo). The inflammatory process in the breast of a nursing woman is called lactational mastitis. The process of occurrence is due to two points: contact with the glandular tissue of infection and the effect of a provoking factor.

Mastitis in the absence of timely treatment goes through several stages with increasingly severe symptoms. This disease is a serious threat to the health of the woman and can cause a negative effect on the baby if it is continued to breastfeed.


Causes of mastitis during breastfeeding, risk factors

Mastitis in a nursing mother

In 90% of cases, Staphylococcus aureus causes inflammatory pathology. However, the group of “guilty” people in mastitis is much more microorganisms - it includes streptococci, fungi, and even E. coli. Infection enters the mammary glands from the external environment, through the bloodstream, through the lymphatic system.

Since the blood supply to the breast is sufficiently developed in a nursing mother, inflammation often covers large areas of the mammary gland, capturing several of its lobes at once. Causes of mastitis:

  1. Infection through cracks in the nipples;
  2. Infection with bacteria trapped in the gland with blood or lymph from foci of chronic infection — caries, chronic tonsillitis, cystitis, etc.

However, an additional stimulus is needed for the development of an infection in the chest. And most often, in 95% of cases, lactostasis, left without treatment for 3-4 days, is the impetus for the development of lactational mastitis.

Factors contributing to the onset of postpartum mastitis include:

  • first birth - mammary glands and their milk ducts are not sufficiently prepared for the regime of breastfeeding;
  • the period of non-breastfeeding;
  • reduced immunity - observed in almost all women in the postpartum period;
  • hypothermia;
  • cystic formations , breast tumors;
  • history of mastopathy;
  • insufficient breast hygiene;
  • all situations provoking lactostasis are insufficient emptying of the dairy lobules, incorrect breastfeeding tactics, compression of the glands, etc.

Stages of mastitis

According to its development, mastitis is the next stage of untreated milk stagnation in the glands. With further development, inflammation goes through the following stages:

  • serous (uninfected mastitis) - manifested by aggravated symptoms of lactostasis, but the infection does not multiply yet;
  • infiltrative - occurs after 1-2 days, characterized by the formation of seals, reaching a diameter of 2-3 cm;
  • purulent - rapid reproduction of infection, suppuration of infiltrates is accompanied by severe intoxication and the serious condition of the woman;
  • abscess - the formation of purulent cavities.

All phases of inflammation occur rapidly with a rapid increase in the severity of symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of mastitis in a nursing mother in stages

photo of mastitis in a nursing mother

photo of mastitis in a nursing mother

The clinical picture can clearly indicate the stage of development of mastitis. So, the first signs of serous mastitis in a nursing mother are as follows:

  1. Lactation reduction is a very important symptom that separates lactostasis and beginning mastitis;
  2. Chest pain that does not disappear after decanting;
  3. Temperature from 38ºС, and in the armpit on the affected side is slightly higher;
  4. Redness of the skin.

Symptoms characteristic of infiltrative mastitis:

  1. Influenza - chills, muscle pain, temperature fluctuations from 37-39ºС;
  2. Painful enlarged axillary lymph nodes;
  3. heaviness in the chest, aching pains;
  4. Clear probing of sealing areas;
  5. Insufficient discharge of milk, even when trying to decant.

symptoms of mastitis in a nursing mother

Lactational mastitis in the purulent stage has the following characteristics:

  1. Severe swelling of the affected tissues, constant severe pain;
  2. Hyperthermia up to 40ºС, severe fever;
  3. Skin change over the affected area - purple or bluish color;
  4. Strained milk has an admixture of pus.

When you go to a doctor, the following signs of inflammation may appear:

  • blood test - leukocytosis, high ESR (starting from the serous stage);
  • Ultrasound - fixation of purulent cavities.

Treatment of mastitis during breastfeeding

Radical treatment tactics directly depends on the timing of treatment to the gynecologist / mammologist and the stage of development of inflammation. If a woman suspected that she had had mastitis on time and went to the clinic for the first 2 days, her treatment would most likely be limited to conservative measures.

Mastitis therapy

  • Antipyretic drugs - Paracetamol is harmless to the baby (feeding at the serous stage does not stop);
  • Antispasmodics - No-shpa, with the refusal of breastfeeding, you can take stronger painkillers;
  • Improving milk flow - Oxytocin drops by mouth or intramuscular injection;
  • Treatment of nipple cracks by Bepanten, Perulan;
  • Antibiotics - with a protracted course, a course of up to 10 days with simultaneous suppression of lactation.


If for 2 days of antibiotic therapy is not observed dynamics, resort to surgical intervention. Infected lesions are excised with the preservation of healthy tissue, often there is a need to install drainage.

The larger the area of ​​damage to the breast, the larger the extent of surgery.

Mastitis: home treatment

It should be understood that self-treatment of mastitis at home is fraught with the further development of inflammation and poses a threat to both the mother and the baby.

Often used without the appointment of a doctor Amoxicillin, Penicillin absolutely no effect on Staphylococcus aureus. Effective drugs for mastitis are Ciprofloxacin, Cephalexin, Amoxiclav.

Rules for the treatment of mastitis at home:

  • Do not expect to cure prolonged mastitis (no improvement in the first 2-3 days) without antibiotics. Preparations are prescribed only by the attending physician.
  • A gentle breast massage is regularly performed without excessive zeal and compression. The mode of conducting - every 2 hours, even at night.
  • No home remedies - putting cabbage leaves, lotions with honey and kalanchoe, oil compresses - will not be able to destroy the infection developing in the glands. Folk recipes can only ease the pain.
  • No thermal procedures - warming up, alcohol-based compresses, etc. Heat will only increase swelling, and increased blood circulation due to warming will provoke further spread of infection.

Feeding the baby during mastitis

Feeding the baby during mastitis

Breastfeeding with mastitis (including on the affected side) continues at the initial stage of inflammation. During this period, it is necessary to maximally empty the mammary glands. After each feeding, decanting of the residue is carried out and cold applied for 15 minutes.

Appointment of antibiotics is a reason to temporarily wean a baby from the breast and transfer to feeding with infant formula. Virtually all antibiotics entering the blood are in breast milk. Their entry into the body of a baby can cause an unpredictable reaction - from an allergic rash and dysbacteriosis to a shock.

When it is possible to return to breastfeeding again - determines the attending physician, taking into account the progress of treatment and the period of withdrawal of antibacterial drugs from the mother's body in order to avoid contact with the baby with milk.

In order to avoid mastitis and its treatment, nursing mothers in the postpartum period should observe:

  • Breast hygiene - washing before each feeding and rubbing with a linen towel to prevent cracking.
  • The exclusion or, at a minimum, the timely elimination of lactostasis is the appropriate feeding regimen, the correct attachment of the newborn to the breast.
  • The exclusion of constrictions and injuries - non-compressive chest bra, sleep on the back or side.
  • Good sleep, rich in vitamins nutrition, rational drinking regime.
  • Immunity support - treatment of chronic foci of infections.
  • Avoiding emotional reactions to stressful situations.

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