What is engorgement and mastitis?
Engorgement and mastitis are two different things, however, engorgement can lead to mastitis. Engorgement occurs when an increase or build up of milk supply occurs, and the breasts are not adequately drained. Engorgement can also be caused by plugged milk ducts. Engorgement can become very uncomfortable and lead to mastitis. Mastitis is an infection within the breast caused by a plugged milk duct. Generally, mastitis is caused by bacteria from the baby’s mouth making it into one of the milk ducts. As the bacteria multiply, it creates waste, which can plug the milk duct and cause extreme swelling and pain.
What are the symptoms of engorgement and mastitis?
- The breasts may still feel quite full after a feeding.
- Several hours have passed between feedings.
- Breasts may feel heavy and tight.
- Bright red swelling may be present on the breast tissue.
- Severe nipple pain may be present.
- The nipples may bleed.
- Sore, painful, bruised-feeling lumps may be felt in the breast tissue.
How can I treat engorgement and mastitis at home?
Nursing and pumping often is one of the best, more effective ways to treat engorgement and mastitis. If you are only engorged, this may clear it up, alternately, if you have developed mastitis, pumping and nursing may be incredibly painful. Hand-expressing into a bowl may be less painful than using a pump.
When should I seek help?
If it has become too painful to nurse or pump, or you suspect you may have developed mastitis, it is imperitive that you consult your physician or make a trip to the emergency room.If you have developed mastitis, your doctor may put you on a course of antibiotics to kill out the bacteria that have accumulated in the breast tissue. Most bacterial breast infections will clear up within 2-3 days of starting antibiotics. Mastitis, if left untreated, can lead to breast abscesses and may require surgery.