Mastitis is a common issue faced by many breastfeeding women. Read on to find out how to dry up milk supply without getting mastitis.
What is mastitis?
Mastitis is one of the medical conditions that can affect a woman who is breastfeeding. It is an inflammation of the breast tissue and can involve an infection. It develops mostly within one to three months after the birth of the baby. Symptoms of mastitis include:
- Breast Pain,
- Breast Tenderness
- Warmth in the Breast
- Breast Lump or Thickening of the Breast Tissue,
- Pain or Burning Sensation during Breastfeeding
- General Malaise
- Pus Discharge from the Nipple
- Reddening of the Breast.
It can also include fever and chills. A worsening of the condition causes inflammation and pain in the lymph nodes in the armpit. Though mastitis is most common in breastfeeding moms, it can affect non-lactating women, menopausal women, and men as well. Mostly mastitis affects one breast and is self-diagnosable. It is best to consult your doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Causes of Mastitis
The leading cause of mastitis is milk that is trapped in the breast. Sometimes a milk duct can become blocked which stagnates the milk and leads to an infection. Bacteria on the surface of the breast or in your baby’s mouth can sometimes enter through the milk ducts or cracks in the nipple skin and cause an infection in the stagnant milk. Factors that increase your risk of getting mastitis include a previous history of mastitis, wearing tight bras, sore nipples, improper latch, fatigue, stress, poor nutrition, low immunity, diabetes, and smoking.
A warm compress can help relieve the pain that arises due to mastitis. Simultaneously, drinking plenty of fluids and taking sufficient rest might help as well. You can treat mastitis with pain medication, antibiotics if the infection is present, and the doctor may advise you to continue breastfeeding to drain your breasts. If you neglect mastitis, it can lead to an abscess in your breast that will have to be drained surgically.
To lower your chances of developing mastitis, it is advisable to take a few precautions while breastfeeding.
- Ensure you empty your breasts fully while breastfeeding. Only after your baby empties one breast completely, offer him/her the other breast.
- Make sure your baby has a proper latch when feeding and change breastfeeding positions often.
- Establishing a regular breastfeeding pattern and taking the help of a lactation consultant will help you avoid developing mastitis.
Impact of Mastitis on the Mother’s Health
Dealing with mastitis, in addition to the demanding task of looking after a newborn, can cause a new mother to feel drained and tired. Mastitis can also lead to flu-like symptoms with body pain and chills. The pain of the condition can sometimes cause the mother to give up breastfeeding altogether. However, it is advisable to continue breastfeeding as emptying the breast will help treat the condition.
How to dry up milk without getting mastitis
If you decide to stop breastfeeding for any reason, wear a tight bra to support your full breasts. Place breast pads in your bra to help soak up any leaking milk. If your breasts feel too full, express a little milk to relieve the discomfort. Cold compresses also help deal with the pain. Pain-relieving medication and anti-inflammatory medication helps if your full breasts become inflamed and painful. To avoid mastitis, express a little milk whenever your breasts are too engorged. There are anti-prolactin drugs available that suppress milk production but take them on your doctor’s advice.
Home remedies to dry up milk
The simplest way is to avoid feeding and expressing milk. This will reduce milk production gradually as there is no stimulation of the breast. Cold cabbage leaves placed inside the bra help reduce the pain associated with breast engorgement. Traditional home remedies advocate the use of certain herbal teas to suppress lactation. Chief among these herbs are sage, jasmine, peppermint, and parsley. Breast massaging helps ease the pain of full breasts. Estrogen taken with a hormonal birth control pill can also dry up milk supply within a week.