Breast feeding a child can be overwhelming to begin with at times, but when a breast infection occurs, it can be down right scary. Do not become alarmed. Many women who are breast feeding experience a breast infection at some time during the time they breast feed their children. Remember, women have been breast feeding babies since the beginning of mankind, it is a natural thing. A Breast infection usually initially manifests itself as a hardness of the breast with accompanying pain. The pain may only feel like a dull ache of the breast. The breast may also feel warm or hot to the touch. There may also be redness or a red streak up the breast as well. A person with a breast infection may have a slight fever and feel generally sick and achy. There are several methods to begin treating the infection at home. If the infection becomes worse, contacting a doctor may become necessary.
Treatment should begin with taking a hot shower. Taking a hot shower and allowing the hot water to run over the breast may loosen up any blockages the infection may be causing, or the blockage could be contributing to the infection. This may also allow the breast to soften up if there is a let down reflex in the shower. Showering everyday can possibly help to avoid breast infections in breast feeding women. Some women shower a few times a day to keep sweat and yeast from growing on breasts and to avoid thrush and other infections on themselves and their babies.
Continue to feed the baby. Feeding the baby with the infection will not hurt the child in most cases. Since the baby’s mouth is the most likely place the bacteria came from that infected the breast to begin with. Feeding the baby will also ensure the breast is emptied of milk. This can be extremely painful, but with some determination, it can be accomplished. Taking the shower just prior to feeding the baby can help with the pain and will also help to keep the bacteria on the nipple from external sources down. This will also keep the likelihood of the infection becoming worse and the possible need for antibiotics less likely. Do not become disheartened, and do not stop breast feeding the baby, it is the best food for a baby, in most cases even if there is a breast infection to deal with. Women have been nursing babies since the beginning of mankind, it is natural and has no additives or preservatives, and it is made just for baby humans.
If the Infection becomes more red or the fever goes up to 102 degrees F or above, consult a physician. If the regular physician cannot be contacted, do not be embarrassed to seek medical attention at a local emergency room, a doc in a box, or urgent care center. Another possibility may be a local health department. This is not something that will wait until Monday, if it is on a Friday night, or the next day if it is a Holiday weekend. Treatment should be sought out immediately if the infection becomes severe. If the infection is severe to begin with, do not try to treat it at home, seek medical attention.
Even if a doctor prescribes antibiotics, in most situations, the antibiotics will not make discontinuation of breast feeding necessary. Most antibiotics are not harmful to infants and it also depends on if or how much of the antibiotics are excreted in breast milk. If the doctor gives the order to discontinue breastfeeding for a period of time, ask him or her for the reason. If the reason is because of the chosen antibiotic, ask if there is another one that will work as well, that will allow continuation of breastfeeding. If the physician seems aggravated with your question or you do not feel comfortable with the answers given, contact a local breast feeding consultant or a La Leche League International Leader near you. The organization has lists of doctors and midwifes in the local area that can be consulted about situations.
Consult your local La Leche League International Leader. The Leader can offer helpful information and encouragement when it seems like there is no one who understands. The Leaders are usually Breast Feeding Consultants and can help out in many different ways. The leader should have a list of reading materials, websites and experience that will usually help out with many issues. Many times there are home remedies that can be used in several situations in addition to breast infections. La Leche League International also has a website to locate a local Leader. The web address is: http://www.llli.org/ . Finding a local group can help to offer emotional support to breast feeding women, as well as pregnant women who wish to find out more about breast feeding their babies. Even if a pregnant woman has not made the decision to breast feed their baby, attending a meeting or speaking to a leader to obtain information is highly encouraged. In most areas, La Leche League International is listed in the local telephone directory and directory assistance. Other local support groups may be available in different local areas, any of these groups could offer assistance.