Importance of breast hygiene
Unhygienic breasts will make a feeding ground for bacteria and germs also
make them prone to all the kind of infections. Infections such as mastitis,
clogged milk ducts and breast abscess in severe cases.
Since breastfeeding includes skin to skin contact with your baby, so never-ever
feed your baby with unhygienic breasts. It will also increase the chances
of diseases and infections in your baby because your baby’s immune system
is still developing. Instead, wash your hands or use alcohol based sanitizer
before and after breastfeeding.
Healthy breastfeeding should include all the necessary care and preventive measures
that prevent both mother and baby from germs or bacterial infections.
Hence, it very important to take care of breast hygiene while breastfeeding.
What causes breast infections?
Generally, breast infections are caused by bacteria (staphylococcus aureus);
it is found on normal skin.
The bacteria can enter through cracked skin or nipple either by the
baby’s mouth or the dirty hands of the mother. Therefore, a mother
needs to keep the breasts dry by changing the breast pads when they get wet,
changing the supportive bra daily, and applying nipple cream for sore
and cracked nipples.
Breastfeeding with the same position will enhance the chances of breast soreness
and ultimately increase the chances of infections. Wearing a tight and
uncomfortable bra also increase the risk because it restricts the milk flow
by blocking the milk ducts and causes lumps in the breasts.
It develops in the fatty breast tissues and causes swelling, lumps and pain
in the breasts.
What are the risk factors and ailments of breast infections?
Earlier stretches of infection or mastitis make the skin prone to infections afterwards.
Sore or cracked skin, although mastitis can be caused without any crack in the skin.
Specific factors that restrict the milk flow include using a tight fitted bra,
applying pressure on the breasts, or hanging a heavy bag on the shoulders.
If nursing techniques and feeding positions are improper. Poor nutrition
and irregular diet. Smoking and alcohol consumption. Certain risk factors
and sleeping variations. Poor nutrition and irregular diet. Complications of
breast infections or mastitis include breast abscess. If blocked duct or breast
infection is not treated on time, it will cause the collection of pus in the breast,
also known as an abscess. The abscess is needed to be drained for treatment.
Talk to your doctor for better advice and treatment.
Types of breast infections
Breast infections are of the following types-
Central infection: it is also known as subareolar infection. It is mainly caused
due to tobacco consumption and smoking. This condition occurs when milk ducts
get infected with an abscess.
Lobular infections: A non-cancerous mass develops in the breasts. It is also
known as granulomatous mastitis.
Peripheral infections: These are also known as non-lactating infections.
People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and with a previous history of
breast trauma are at high risk.
Skin infection: skin infections such as cellulitis and sebaceous cysts. People with
large sized breasts and with a previous history of breast surgery or radiotherapy are
at high risk.
How can you minimise the pain and discomfort caused due to breast infections?
There are specific remedies that can be helpful to minimise the pain
and discomfort during breast infections-
OTC ( Over The Counter) medicines like Ibuprofen Or Acetaminophen can be taken.
Taking sufficient amount of sleep, rest and fluids.
Avoid wearing tight bras.
If the infection is caused due to breastfeeding, then the following steps will reduce the discomfort-
A mother needs to continue breastfeeding until and unless a doctor asks
her to stop because the infection will not pass to the baby.
Do not keep the breasts engorged for a longer duration. First, use the
infected breast to empty it. You can switch the breasts from time to time to feed.
You can apply a hot and moist compress on the painful breast.
It would be best if you tried different positions for breastfeeding to empty
the breasts, take help from a lactation consultant for better breastfeeding positions.
Massaging the infected breast with little pressure can help to prevent clogging
of milk ducts. If the pain becomes severe and spreads to armpits or if the pus
comes out, then you should go to a doctor.
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With the right knowledge and preparation, you’re well on your way to a successful breastfeeding journey. Remember, you’ve got this, mumma!