Updated: Apr 20
Mastitis and Breast Abscess
Aww! How adorable she is..! This is what you think when you see a new mom breastfeeding her infant, and they make it look so easy. She opens a button and lets her baby latch on herself without missing a bit of debate or a bite of the meal. As it most obviously appears, breastfeeding is the most natural act in the world for a mother. But, to be very frank, especially for newbie moms and their babies — this often doesn’t come naturally at all first. Once you get past the initial trial-and-error days of finding the best system for you and your baby, nursing becomes one of the most rewarding responsibilities of motherhood.
We all are well aware of the word ‘’Breastfeeding’’ - It is, when you feed your baby with breast milk, directly from your breast. It’s also called nursing. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a perfect mix of vitamins, protein, fat, and everything else your baby needs to grow and stay healthy.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and harmful bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of catching asthma or allergies.
How often you should breastfeed your baby depends upon whether your baby prefers small, frequent meals or longer feed and upon your kids’ age. What's more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you, feel secure and get peaceful naps.
Breast milk arrives in three stages. Nature designed each for your baby’s age. Making it the perfect food for your baby from the first to beyond.
Colostrum (liquid gold)
Just after delivery, the first thick yellow-like substance which comes out naturally is colostrum. This milk is blended with minerals, vitamins, and protein. That’s why it’s totally gold for your baby. This milk helps babies to defend against harmful bacteria and stimulates babies to produce antibodies. It also coats the inside of the baby’s intestines, protecting her immature immune system, and protecting against allergies and digestive upset. Plus, it stimulates the baby’s first bowel movement and reduces jaundice risk. It's very shocking to me that our elders talked about this before it was scientifically tested. Regularly suckling from the start will help stimulate your body to create the next level of milk within a few days.
Three to five days after birth, colostrum is replaced with transitional milk. It moreover looks like a mixture of orange juice and milk.
Usually, between the tenth day and the second week, mature milk finally comes in. It’s white and slightly thinner than transitional milk, resembling watery skim milk, and can appear bluish at first.
Breastfeeding a new-born can be a full-time job
Infants need to be breastfed every two to three hours in the beginning, and each session can take a while. You’ll know that feeding is done when the baby has completely drained at least one breast. For a newborn, this may take around 20 to 45 minutes to complete each feeding.
This is out of my journey experience:
I couldn't stop myself from sharing my experience, so that the new mom could enjoy this blissful journey, putting aside the worries I've been through. My daughter was about a month old, when I developed, what is called ‘Mastitis’, a term and condition completely alien to me at that time. I felt so awful and thought I had the flu. Next, I felt cold & was shivering, and on one of my breasts, I noticed a hot, swollen, painful spot. It was horrible, the area was very tender, particularly when my breasts were full or if it was hit by my daughter while breastfeeding. It's is not easy trying to look after your baby while you feel feverish and in continuous pain.
My mom advised me to either nurse or pump the affected breast. I wasn't able to nurse it at home as the pain was excruciating. I told my husband that I need to go to the hospital. So, for me visiting the hospital was the best choice, they checked my temperature and said it was slightly high, they gave me medicine and pumped extra milk and the doctor also asked me to keep pumping out the milk, so that this condition shouldn’t surface again. Frequent nursing prevents mastitis however if not done so, plugged ducts could lead further to ‘’Abscesses’’ which is a more serious and terrible bacterial infection (Treatment for this may often involve surgery on your breast). The doctor gave me the relievers to reduce pain and inflammation. Many moms aren't even aware of it until they're personally affected. Breastfeeding is natural but it does not always come naturally. Girls should read or join forums, ask more questions, but we don’t, we just assume that it will feel as natural as breathing because no one ever told us. I thought I’d share some of the symptoms and how to relieve the pain with all of you, breastfeeding mammas.
Mastitis is an infection of the tissue of the breast that normally occurs during the time of breastfeeding. It can occur when bacteria enter a milk duct through a crack in the nipple, often from the baby's mouth. Engorgement and incomplete breast emptying can contribute to the problem and make the symptoms worse. Incomplete breast emptying happens when your baby is not latching properly or latching mostly from just one side (because the baby sometimes feels more comfortable on one side and reluctant to latch to the other side).
And now you must be wondering what is Abscess. So, here what I learned from my experience that a breast abscess can be a complication of mastitis. Abscesses’ are rare, occurring in 3-11 percent of women who have infectious mastitis. A persistent plug that keeps occurring in the same place may result in the formation of abscesses. Abscesses can be diagnosed either by aspiration (lanced and drained with a needle by your doctor) or by ultrasound. If you are having an ultrasound, be sure to empty your breasts as much as possible before the test so that the technicians can more easily read the results. If you have an abscess aspirated, the doctor culture the fluid that is drawn out so that an appropriate antibiotic can be prescribed.
Here is what not only the new moms but every woman should know so that you can inform other new moms. So, all mothers need to breastfeed their kids from both the side, or you can pump out extra milk and refrigerate it.
If you have these signs, please speak to a lactation counselor immediately.
The only way to treat mastitis is with antibiotics. “Your OB will make sure to prescribe one that’s safe and compatible with breastfeeding,” says Nguyen, who also recommends adding a probiotic to your daily routine whenever antibiotics are being used. At the same time, it’s still important to frequently empty your breasts. “If it’s too painful to nurse or baby refuses to nurse, pump to keep your breasts empty,” says Nguyen. “Milk backing up in your breasts can make mastitis worse.” Finally, warm compresses can help soothe discomfort. A mother suffering from an abscess needs to get some rest and let herself heal. That is the “message” of mastitis and abscesses to every mother.
Some mothers, however, struggle with what we term a "low supply of milk." The supply of too little milk can be attributed to several factors and can be quite disappointing. Please contact your doctor or lactation consultant if you fear that you might not be producing enough breast milk for your infant. Always keep in mind that as long as you get your baby fed, you're doing a great job! Breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone. To some moms, who couldn’t feed their baby due to less supply of milk, it may feel like a failure. There wasn't enough milk coming so mom started formula. Check whether your baby is absolutely healthy and happy! Do what is right for you and your baby, never listen to the negatives. You're doing great!
I shared my experience in a very simple way so that all the new mothers could understand. If you had a similar or any other experience do share it, to help all moms out there.
Stephanie Nguyen, RN, MSN, WHNP-C, IBCLC, is a registered nurse, women’s health nurse practitioner, and lactation.
Image source: munzy.art