I could hear the pain in her voice when she called. Mastitis is so uncomfortable and she was so tired. How could she get some relief? Here are a few treatments for mastitis you can do at home.
First, please know this: It’s important to keep feeding or pumping, at least every two or three hours, even at night. That is how to keep the milk flowing… the opposite of clogging. Your supply may be temporarily reduced though it can rebound once the milk ducts are not swollen. Breastfeeding while you have mastitis will not make your baby sick.
Mastitis is inflammation of the milk ducts in your breast. It is a very uncomfortable pressure or fullness, usually there’s a red rash and sometimes fever as well. Each of the suggested remedies you should do three times a day. Usually you will feel comfort in a day and within three to five days, the mastitis could be cleared.
You may not want anything to touch your breast. Start with cool compresses to help with swelling. You can alternate warm and cold compresses, though more heat exacerbates swelling. Cool is preferable.
• Get the fluids moving with gentle hand expression. A very good video by Maya Bolman, IBCLC demonstrates breast massage and hand expression. You move down from the armpit to the nipple with gentle surface massage (not deep muscle).This improves circulation. In addition, shoulder rolls and arm circles move lymph fluids.
• Turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown that it can eliminate mastitis, usually in three to five days. Use turmeric cream or lotion on the affected area two times a day. My husband makes a very nice turmeric salve with cocoa butter, olive oil and turmeric. You can make this at home though if you’re in pain now just go buy it. Turmeric is a beautiful yellow color and it will stain your clothes and sheets.
• Another remedy, less known in the U.S, is putting Quark on the breast. Quark is a cultured cheese, like cottage cheese though smoother. Because it’s been refrigerated, it’s cool and comforting. The theory is that the active cultures draw out the toxins. Use it in a compress* or directly on the breast. My colleague Christine told me women in her home country, Germany, all knew about this. Only one client of mine has tried this. She was from Holland and was familiar with this. It worked for her.
In addition to these three remedies,
• More rest. Two naps a day, even if only 15 minutes. Resting with your baby may be the best time for quiet.
• Plenty of fluids. Fill a quart container with water and sip throughout the day. Fill it again and drink another quart.
• Stretch and move. It gets your lymph fluid flowing and you need that to clear infections.
If your mastitis does not resolve, you have a fever or continue to feel lousy, definitely contact a health care provider. I do hope one of these remedies can offer you relief.
* By the way, a compress is easy to make.
1. Take a paper towel or a square of thin, all cotton fabric. (Cloth is reusable and sturdier than paper towels.)
2. Put the herb or Quark in the middle of the square.
3. Fold the edges around the middle. Now you have a square with a soggy middle.
4. Place that on your breast.