Breast infection or mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that mostly affects breastfeeding women. Most of the time, it occurs within three months of delivery. However, it may happen any time during the breastfeeding period. Usually breast infection related to lactation, affects only one breast.
Causes of Breast Infection
The following are the reasons for breast infection in nursing mothers.
- Blocked milk duct that leads to infection due to the milk remaining in the breast
- Bacteria entering the breast through the crack on the nipple
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Infection
The following are the signs and symptoms of breast infection.
- Pain in the breast
- Warm to touch
- Fever and chills
The above given symptoms usually leave the mother exhausted making it difficult for her to take care of the baby.
Simple Steps to be followed in Breast Infection
When a breastfeeding mother is detected with mastitis, it is important to follow certain simple steps that will assist in clearing the infection.
- Continue to breastfeed as it does not pose any risk to the baby and will help in clearing the infection in the breast
- If breastfeeding becomes too painful, try pumping or hand-expressing the milk to avoid clogging
Home Remedies for Breast Infection
Along with the tips given above, certain home remedies can also be followed to reduce the breast infection. These home remedies are used to treat the infection as well as reduce the discomfort.
Massaging the affected breast helps in unclogging the blocked milk duct and reduces swelling. Massage in circular motion by applying more pressure from the outer breast towards the nipple.
- Mix equal amounts of apricot and wheat germ oil to prepare massage oil
- Use this oil to massage the breast in upward strokes
- Alternatively, you may mix few drops of camphor oil in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and use it to massage the breast
- Repeat the process few times a day until relief
Cabbage leaves contain sulfur compounds that helps in reducing the inflammation and swelling. It has soothing effects on the breast affected by the infection. For nursing mother, it also provides relief from engorgement and clogged ducts.
- Take few cabbage leaves and refrigerate it for 30 minutes
- Place a cold cabbage leaf on the breast with infection
- When the leaf reaches the room temperature, replace it with another cold leaf
- Repeat the process few times a day until the pain relieves
Hot and Cold compress
Both hot and cold compress are useful in treating breast infection. Cold compress helps in reducing the pain and swelling, whereas a hot compress improves the flow of blood and aids in proper flow of milk.
- Make a hot compress by wrapping a hot water bottle in a thin towel
- Make a cold compress by wrapping few ice cubes in a thin towel
- Place the hot compress on the infected breast for 15 minutes
- Apply cold compress for 5 minutes
- Repeat this process twice or thrice in cycles
- Use this remedy as needed
Garlic has antibiotic property that makes it an ideal remedy for breast infection. It helps in killing the bacteria that causes the infection. It also boosts the immune system and promotes faster recovery.
- Eat two cloves of raw garlic in the morning on empty stomach
- Also, it can be taken along with orange juice or plain water to avoid the bitterness
- Consult the doctor and take garlic supplements
Echinacea is a potent herb that helps in building the immune system by fighting all infections. It contains flavonoids that has antibiotic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Apply Echinacea tincture on the infected breast
- Make sure that the breast is cleaned after few minutes of applying the tincture and before you breastfeed
- Also you may add 3 to 4 drops of tincture to a glass of water and drink it
- Repeat this process 3 to 4 times a day for about a week
Apple Cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another excellent remedy for curing breast infections. It has strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing inflammation and fights against bacteria causing the infection. Apart from that, it also helps in preventing the infection from spreading further. It also offers an added energy boost.
- Prepare a solution by mixing one part of apple cider vinegar in two parts of water
- Apply this solution on the infected breast using a cotton ball
- Allow it to sit for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water
- Repeat this process twice or thrice daily until the infection is cleared
- Alternatively, you can also prepare a mixture by mixing one tablespoon of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and add a spoon of honey to it
- Drink this thrice a day regularly for at least two weeks
The above home remedies are effective in treating the breast infection. However it the condition persist for a longer time or if it is more severe, then it is advisable to consult a doctor to get it diagnosed and treated accordingly.
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