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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Taylor

Did you know Physiotherapists can treat Mastitis?

Approximately, 1 in 6 will develop Lactational Mastitis during their Breast Feeding Journey and 50% of these women will develop it within the first 4 weeks of the Postpartum Period.

Below we explain how Physiotherapists can treat Mastitis and some useful tips on self help and preventing occurrence.

What is Mastitis?

  • Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue that usually occurs when a milk duct becomes blocked. (Usually caused by not fully emptying the breasts, compression whilst sleeping on your side/front or a tight bra and missing feeds)

  • A blockage causes inflammation and sometimes infection. It can also be caused by a bacterial infection entering the breast tissue when the nipples become cracked. It is very important to start treatment early to reduce the risk of developing an infected abscess.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms can come on very quickly, sometimes with little or no warning.

  • lump or tenderness in the breast.

  • Redness, swelling and hot to touch

  • Flu like symptoms e.g. high temperature, hot flushes/chills, body aches and pains

Physiotherapy Treatment

Ultrasound performed by your Physiotherapist is very effective in clearing the blockage in the ducts and helps to reduce the inflammation, swelling and pain. It is a low intervention treatment that is safe for Breast Feeding Mothers and Babies.

Ultrasound encourages lymphatic drainage which promotes circulation and milk flow. Physiotherapists can also provide advice on feeding, positioning/posture and breast care to help recovery and help prevent recurrence. Usually, treatment is only needed for a few days.

It is important that you been seen ASAP to avoid risk of infection so we will endeavour to fit you in where possible. Book online at Sutherland Shire Physiotherapy Centre online or Call (02) 9524 4400 for our clinic in Miranda, Sydney.

Do I need Antibiotics?

If you are not improving or if you have signs of an infection (fever and feeling unwell) you should see your doctor immediately. If you have an infection you will be prescribed antibiotics. This is safe for the baby.

Self Help

Start treatment as soon as you become aware of a lump or a sore spot in your breast.

  • Keep breast feeding your baby as this will help to clear the blockage

  • Feed in a relaxed/comfortable position

  • Start feeds on the affected side but be sure to fully empty both sides

  • Try to have the baby’s chin positioned over the blockage

  • Gently massage the affected area, stroking towards your nipple during feeds

  • If your baby is not emptying the breast or refusing to feed, try expressing

  • Use hot packs for few minutes before a feed. This will help the let-down and reduce the pain.

  • Use cold packs after a feed to help with pain and drink plenty of water

Preventing a recurrence

  • Alternate the breast that you start the feed from

  • Vary your feeding position from time to time but ensure that you are relaxed and comfortable

  • If you miss a feed express until you are comfortable

  • Wear loose fitting clothing and if you are wearing a bra, make sure it fits well

  • Check your breasts regularly for lumps, tenderness and redness

  • Avoid the use of nipple creams as these can harbour bacteria. Instead use breast milk.

  • Wash your hands before feeds and after nappy changes.

  • Get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, eat well and try to minimise stress.

  • Book in with a Lactation consultant or midwife to check your baby

  • Be kind to yourself. YOU’RE AMAZING!

Telephone help is available 24 hours a day from the National Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline on 1800 686 268

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