As part of the brand new #BUSTling series with The Bundle Store here is our first Q&A. Have a topic you'd like to see discussed here on Mamatoga? Shoot me an email at Jenny (at) Mamatoga dot com! Now check out the advice and tips Amber from The Bundle Store has for dealing with mastitis while breastfeeding.
Mamatoga: What are some signs and symptoms of mastitis? What should I do first if I think I have mastitis?
Amber: Mastitis can present itself in various different symptoms. Personally, when I had mastitis I had a fever over 101 with chills, aches, and lethargy. Somewhat like what the flu feels like. Other symptoms include a red, swollen area on your breast that may feel painful or hot, abnormal discharge from your nipple, a burning pain in your breast either when you're breastfeeding or even when you're not, or a hard, lumpy area on your breast. If you think you have mastitis you should contact your health practitioner as soon as possible, either your OB/GYN, midwife, or general practitioner. You should also remove any bra or tight clothing that you are wearing, drink lots of fluids, and continue to breastfeed your baby as usual. It may also help to pump or express any remaining milk after breastfeeding and also breastfeed more often.
M: What could be some of the causes of mastitis? Anything specifically to avoid? Anything I can do to try to prevent it?
A: Mastitis is often caused by milk build-up within the breast. This can either be from skipping feedings, infrequent feedings, an improper latch, or baby having issues with sucking during breastfeeding.
To prevent milk build up and reduce the potential for mastitis you want to first make sure that you have a well fitting bra and preferably one that does not have underwire. I always recommend to my mothers that they get fitted with us for a bra, even before delivering baby, and use a bra with a sufficient size band support under the breasts such as in the Melinda G maternity/nursing bra line that we carry in store. If you have a bra that is cutting into you and is painful, either underwire or not, this is something that you need to address.
You also want to make sure that you have a nursing bra for nighttime that can support your breasts while giving them a little more room to fill while you are asleep (Dreamy Sleep Bra by Melinda G). Nursing clothes have come a long way so also invite some nursing pieces into your wardrobe or a nursing scarf (NuRoo nursing scarf) that is right there around your neck ready to go as a cover-up if you so choose. In addition, make sure you make time to stop to breastfeed when your baby is hungry or your breasts feel full, whether you are at home or you are out and about. You are more likely to run into a problem when you put off a feeding until you finish folding the laundry or until after you leave the store and get home. Breastfeeding in a carrier is a great skill to learn and can allow you to still accomplish the tasks you need to get done both at home and when you're out. For tips on breastfeeding in your carrier, please feel free to stop in and chat with us at the store. You'll also want to make sure that your baby is well latched onto your breast during feedings and that you let baby finish feeding naturally, pulling off from your breast on his or her own.
M: Does mastitis reduce milk supply?
A: For this answer I turned to my good friend Melia from The Milk Canteen. She said "Mastitis itself should not cause a long term reduction in milk supply. However, many of the things that cause mastitis, like not emptying the breast, can cause reductions in supply as well. Mothers should check their breasts for blockages and sensitive spots at every feeding to make sure that baby is effectively removing milk. This will help guard against supply reductions and prevent an infection from settling in."
M: What kinds of things can I try to increase my milk supply?
Supply and demand usually go hand in hand. But when they don't you can seek out help from a lactation consultant to guide you through increasing your supply. You may also try completing emptying your breasts through pumping or hand expression after feedings, massaging the breasts during feedings to ensure you are accessing your full supply, making sure that you are consuming enough liquids for yourself, hold baby skin to skin or wear baby in a carrier to increase the hormone prolactin that is involved in milk production, try herbal supplements or consumable products formulated to help increase milk supply. It's helpful to keep in mind that breastfeeding, like parenting, does not come with a manual for each mother/baby duo. But with the right information, tools, and support it can be a very positive and successful experience.
What are some supplements I can try to increase milk supply?
You can try making your own lactation cookies or try various herbal boosters. We like Milkmakers packaged lactation cookie mix because they have a gluten free/dairy free option which allows you to avoid those ingredients if you feel your baby may be having some food sensitivities (read my review here). Motherlove liquid extracts and capsules are also a popular product among mothers that come into the store and they have a few non-fenugreek options if you need to avoid that herb due to allergy or hypothyroidism.
Many thanks to Amber for taking part in this Q&A, I highly recommend stopping by her shop in Ballston Spa if you have any questions or want to chat about any of these products mentioned. Even though I am nursing baby number four, the FIRST time I found a nursing bra that fit and was actually comfortable was after going to The Bundle Store and actually getting fitted for one. Stay tuned for even more from our #BUSTling series next week! Want more today? Click the pic below to see my nursing mama uniform! xoxo