Contributors: Marie Hunt and Dr. Emran from Simple Health Radio
In today’s episode of Simple Health Radio, Dr. Emran discusses “Joyce”, a patient who came into the emergency department with Mastitis.
Joyce, a healthy 25-year-old female who was two weeks postpartum, began experiencing redness and swelling in her left breast. It was so painful, in fact, that she had a hard time putting on clothes. She was achy all over her body. There was no discharge or bleeding, but she was worried if she needed to stop breastfeeding.
Mastitis most often occurs in women who are breastfeeding. The symptoms can include swelling, burning, redness, flu-like symptoms, pain when touched, fatigue and general aches and pains all over the body.
The number one bacteria that causes mastitis is staph. Dr. Emran explains how the process of infection in the breast tissue is unique.
First, the milk that is produced in the breast has its own sugar, called galactose. This sugar attracts infection.
Second, in the few weeks after having a baby, engorgement occurs. Engorgement is the process where a large amount of milk is produced and fills up the breast and nipple area.
In a perfect case, the baby will breastfeed on the left and right side equally allowing the milk to continue to flow properly. However, if the baby is not feeding properly, small breaks in the skin develop, or if there is any blockage of milk ducts – the milk actually begins to backflow. Milk that sits for too long will become stagnant and attracts even more bacteria.
The best treatment for mastitis is to continue expressing milk and encourage breastfeeding. If it worsens, then an antibiotic is necessary. Fortunately, there are antibiotics that are completely safe for the baby.
It is important to remember that mastitis is not contagious and will not spread to the baby. It can reoccur, so Dr. Emran recommends visiting a lactation nurse as they have other techniques on how to properly breastfeed your baby.
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