MASTITIS & BREASTFEEDING
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF BREAST PAIN?
Engorgement is the uncomfortable swelling of your breast when your milk starts to be produced usually between 2-5 days after delivery. It often subsides within 12-48 hours. However, prolonged swelling compresses the milk ducts, which restricts milk flow. This causes hardening of the breast tissue and can therefore cause difficulties for the baby to feed.
Blocked ducts can occur in an area of the breast where milk flow is obstructed, causing the milk to “set”, thereby blocking the ducts. When this happens, the surrounding tissue may become swollen and a hard lump forms. This is often tender to touch.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue as a result of a blocked milk duct. The milk collecting behind the blockage can be forced into the breast tissue causing an inflammatory response. This may or may not be associated with an infection or fever. If these symptoms are not treated within 24-48 hours, you may start to feel unwell, feverish and have general malaise. Physiotherapy treatment should be sought immediately to help clear the blocked ducts and treat the inflammation.
Early detection and management of breast pain can significantly reduce problems with lactation. Hence, physiotherapy treatment can be very useful to promote successful breastfeeding.
WHEN CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP?
If your breast feels hard or painful
If you feel hard lumps at your breast
If your breast looks red and feels warm to touch
If you feel feverish and unwell
If there is a sudden drop of milk supple
If you have any or all of the above symptoms, physiotherapy can provide immediate relief.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPIST?
Application of therapeutic ultrasound to assist with reducing inflammation.(Figure 1.1)
Lymphatic drainage taping to sustain the effect of the manual therapy in promoting duct drainage until the next treatment session. (Figure 1.2)
Liaison with your lactation consultant or midwife to further promote successful breastfeeding. (Figure 1.3)
Advice and explanation of self-administered techniques to continue treatment at home.
Prescription and fitting of compressive garments where necessary. (Figure 1.4)