Out of the blue my poor boob started to ache, it hurt to touch, swelled up and when Edie was feeding it was so painful my toes would curl, akin to the pain of week 1 breastfeeding. So I did the sensible thing of giving poor boob 24hrs off work. Big mistake.
What I hadn’t worked out was that by giving poor boob a day off I was only making it worse. Sore, swollen boobs are two common symptoms of a blocked duct, which if you aren’t careful can develop into mastitis.
Mastitis is a condition which causes breast tissue to become inflamed and although it’s pretty easily treated, it’s bloody miserable.
What can cause mastitis?
It is often caused by a build-up of milk. This can be down to the baby not latching on properly, not sucking properly, or irregular feeds.
Symptoms of mastitis
Mastitis usually only affects one breast, and symptoms can develop quickly. Symptoms include:
- Red, swollen area on your breast that may feel hot and painful to touch
- A breast lump or area of hardness on your breast
- A burning pain in your breast that may be continuous or may only occur when you are breastfeeding
- Nipple discharge, which may be white or contain streaks of blood
- You may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as aches, a high temperature (fever), chills and tiredness.
You can read more about it here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mastitis/
How I prevented mastitis by unblocking the blocked milk duct
I’m lucky enough to have a sister who is a nurse, know a midwife, and have a good friend who is a breastfeeding pro, and they gave me the following advice:
- Get baby to eat regularly from the sore boob, if possible feed more frequently and offer sore boob first. This can be painful but understand that continuing to breastfeed your baby won’t harm them, even if your boob is infected. Make sure your baby has a proper latch while feeding (this video may help: https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/how-to-get-a-good-breastfeeding-latch/)
- Switch feeding positions every time you feed as this gives baby a chance to suck the blockage out from a different angel. This was one of the best bits of advice that I was given.
- Scrub end of your nipple with a flannel or exfoliating mitt if your nipples are tough enough
- Warm compress – this can soften the blocked milk and can help your breast milk to flow better. I used to use a warm compress just before feeding
- Massage. Stroke from the lump or tender area towards your nipple to help the milk flow
– one friend swears by using an electric toothbrush!
- Warm shower/bath – hand express while in there if possible
By doing the above the blocked duct didn’t develop into full blown mastitis and it only took 1 week for poor boob to be normal boob again.
How to stop mastitis