A side of Mastitis at Christmas...
Doesn’t sound very fun does it!? Christmas is usually a time of joy and fun. Plus, you have your baby to show off to relatives and friends! And yet, many women find themselves in a bit of a pickle with their unfortunate side of mastitis over Christmas. Which is not so fun and joyous. Mastitis is inflammation of the breast. Sometimes, it is an infection of the breast. Women can experience a range of symptoms, but the most common include flu like symptoms, high fever, joint pain, and redness and tenderness over the breast. It can really hit you hard and can feel like it has come from nowhere.
Of course, Christmas can be difficult to get in touch with your GP or usual health care provider making it all the more difficult to manage. Let’s explore some of the key reasons women get mastitis over Christmas, and what you can do if this happens to you!
- Stress & Overwhelm
Did you know that when we are stressed, the brain releases a chemical that negatively impacts the hormone oxytocin? Oxytocin is what allows the let-down reflex! No or slow milk flow only leads to more stress whilst trying to feed a cranky and hungry baby, fuelling a viscous cycle. If you find yourself in this situation this Christmas, find yourself a quiet space for you and bubs to take a minute to relax together before a feed. It’s ok to leave the hustle and bustle of the Christmas table if you are feeling overwhelmed!
- Missed feeds or prolonged time between feeds.
Ahhh, the perfect combo preventing milk clearing the breast. It’s so easy to miss a feeding time when there’s people everywhere and food to eat. Plus, your bubba is probably distracted too, and not feeding or latching completely well. This can cause milk stasis (milk that sits in the breast if its not cleared) which then may cause mastitis.
- Wearing tighter or uncomfortable clothing.
Just as above, tight clothes and bra’s prevent milk flowing well, leading to milk stasis.
What to remember if you do get mastitis:
- Keep going with your usual feeding/ expressing routine, try to clear the affected breast as much as possible.
- Use warmth over the area to assist with blood flow. This also feels nice!
- Gently massage the breast to help move the fluids associated with mastitis along. Need direction on how to massage your breast effectively? Check out our Masterclasses here.
- Use a cold pack for pain relief.
- And finally give yourself a break! You’re doing amazing! Drink plenty of fluids, have plenty of rest, and if your symptoms don’t start to improve (or worsen!), then try your usual GP for advice. If your usual GP is closed, there is always Nurse on call, or Doctor on call. If none of these are available to you, remember that the emergency department is.
Osteopath & Your Two Jugs Co-Founder
Elise is one of Your Two Jugs Co-Founders! She is an Australian registered osteopath, and has been using her hands on skills to teach breastfeeding women about their breast health for most of her working career. Working with breastfeeding women was a surprise adjunct to Elise’s career plans, but has definitely been the most rewarding!