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World Breastfeeding Week: Mastitis, A Health Challenge Encountered By The Breastfeeding Mothers

NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India spoke to Dr Shachee Baweja Sr. Lactation Consultant and Dr Tushar Parikh, senior consultant neonatologist and paediatrician about Mastitis, its causes and the treatment and preventive measures

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World Breastfeeding Week: Mastitis, A Health Challenge Encountered By The Breastfeeding Mothers
It is usually caused by an infection of the breast ducts.

New Delhi: One of the most significant experiences in a new mother’s life is breastfeeding. However, many women face difficulties breastfeeding due to irregular lactation, breast soreness, swelling in the area, and a host of other complications. One of the most serious and common issues that new mothers face is Mastitis.

NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India spoke with Dr. Shacchee Khare Baweja, Sr. Lactation Consultant (International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant), Centre For Child Health at Max Super Speciality Hospital, about Mastitis, the diagnostics, symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures.

Also Read: Women Shouldn’t Require Superpowers To Juggle Breastfeeding And Work: WHO

Mastitis

Mastitis is a condition in which a woman’s breast tissue becomes abnormally swollen or inflamed. It is usually caused by an infection of the breast ducts. Anything that causes swelling inside the breast can lead to Mastitis, Dr Baweja said. It commonly happens if the newborn is not suckling properly at the breast. As a result, the milk keeps pooling inside the breast and starts seeping out of the breast glands into the surrounding area. She further said,

The breast has two parts, the gland area, where milk is stored, and the supporting tissues. The milk starts seeping outside the glands and spreading across the tissues. These tissues react to the milk that is seeping inside them, and they swell up.

Dr. Tushar Parikh, a senior consultant Neonatologist and Paediatrician from Motherhood Hospital, talked about improper breastfeeding techniques that could also increase the risk of Mastitis. He added,

As much as we know that breastfeeding comes naturally to new mothers, it does not come naturally to all. If the technique is improper, the mother can experience excruciating pain during the feed, which further affects the milk flow.

Also Read:World Breastfeeding Week 2023: All About This Year’s Theme, History And Its Significance

Causes of Mastitis

Dr. Baweja said that the baby not suckling the milk out of the breast properly is one of the primary reasons. However, here are the other causes of Mastitis:

  • Damaged breast tissue
  • Infrequent breastfeeds
  • Not removing the milk from part or all of the breast properly, among others.
  • Nipple injury: When the baby is not able to suckle really well and the newborn keeps chewing at the nipple, it causes injury, and the bacteria that are staying over the area enter the breast through a crack in the nipple.
  • Incorrect usage of nipple shields leads to less milk transfer. A mother can develop mastitis more easily because the baby isn’t fully emptying the breast.
  • Incorrect use of breast pumps: increasing the milk supply too much through pumping can lead to engorgement, blocked milk ducts, and an increased risk of Mastitis.
  • Improper technique for breastfeeding

Dr. Baweja said,

If Mastitis is not handled correctly, it can lead to breast abscess, a buildup of pus in the breast called breast abscess.

Mastitis does not necessarily need to be infectious, but if it is not managed well in time (during the inflammation period), it becomes infectious, the lactation consultant added.

Symptoms of Mastitis

Apart from swelling, symptoms of Mastitis may include red patches on the breast skin, feeling of chills, body ache, nausea, fever, fatigue, pain in the breast, tightness in the breast, and a burning sensation while breastfeeding.

Also Read:Study Reveals Link Between Human Breast Milk Micronutrient And Brain Development In Newborns

Treatment

The primary lesson new mothers should learn is that not all lactation consultants can treat Mastitis. The treatment should only be attempted by registered medical practitioners. If identified quickly, more often than not, Mastitis can start settling within 24 hours as well, according to Dr. Parikh. Other treatments include:

  • Settling the swelling or inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications
  • Measures like cool compressing to sooth the breasts
  • Getting assessed by an obstetrician to identify if the inflammation is turning infectious and using prescribed medicines
  • Correcting the newborn’s latch onto the breast with the help of a trained lactation professional
  • Treatment for a breast abscess requires only intervention: Either ultrasound guided needle aspiration (removing pus through a needle with the help of ultrasound) or surgery.

Preventive Measures

Dr. Baweja laid down some of the preventive measures women can follow once they start breastfeeding:

  • Making sure the baby has a good latch to the nipples
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes
  • Application of one’s own breast milk over the soreness if any. 
  • Learning to correctly use the pump and avoid overstimulating the breast
  • Removing breastmilk regularly is important to avoid any milk ducts. This can be done either by pumping or by feeding directly. This would also help soothe the engorged breast

Both, Dr. Baweja and Dr. Parikh said that treatment becomes challenging if the mother is facing sleep deprivation and physical as well as mental stress, which typically new mothers face. Further, the nutrition of the mother also needs to be kept in check, as well-nourished breastfeeding mothers would face minimal or mild challenges.

Dr. Parikh said that the new mothers must consult a lactation expert or a consultant about nutrition, care practises, and breastfeeding, rather than being influenced by cultural aspects of what to consume and what not to consume.

Dr. Baweja said that a breastfeeding mother’s diet should be probiotic- rich. Some of the good sources of probiotics in the Indian diet include curd, sprouts, fermented foods, pickles, chutneys, kombucha, and much more.

Also Read:Breastfeeding Children For Longer Period Leads To Better Results In Their School: Study

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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