Monday, September 21, 2009

the most common breast infections and how to avoid them while breastfeeding

first, let me say that hopefully none of these infections will ever be considered deal-breakers for you. we are not mothers because we thought it would be easy and always convenient, right?   all of this stuff is fixable....i just wish i had known ahead of time about a couple of potential breast infections, so that i may have been able to avoid them.   here's your head's up....

otherwise known as a yeast infection in your breasts (who knew?), can be extremely painful and very challenging to get rid of if you choose to do it naturally. it often first shows up in baby as diaper rash and, worst case, as white spots in baby's mouth. other symptoms include painful shooting pains in your breasts.

like the other kind of yeast infection that women can get, this one can be caused from too much sugar in your diet. don't forget that even too much juice, fruit, and bread can push your body into the sugary yeast zone. help the good bacteria in your intestines kick the yeast's ass by taking a probiotic or acidopholus. you can get these in foods like kefir or yogurt (go plain here or it's really high in sugar), or in capsule form.

if you or baby end up taking antibiotics anytime before, during, or after birth, you are at risk of a yeast antibiotics wipe out the bad and good bacteria in your intestines. yeast can also be caused from constant moisture against the breasts and nipples. be sure you air out your nipples as much as possible. i know that sounds impossible when they are leaking like a faucet several times a day....but you can do it!

there are several options for trying to rid your life of yeast after an infection---all of which are fairly laborious---and it can be hard to find the time as a new mom.

plugged ducts and mastitis: 
one of your many milk ducts can become clogged and form a little pea or grape size nodule in your breast. be sure to feel your breasts at least once a day to check for these. if you have a plug, you'll want to massage the area with your hand under warm shower water, or use a warm wet rag (a wet diaper in the microwave works great too!) several times a day to try to loosen the clog---and feed, feed, feed baby. yes, it feels a little weird to massage a little hard lump in your boob, but you gotta do what you gotta do, because you do not want it to turn into mastitis.

mastitis is not the end of the world--i have had it 3 times in the last 10 months. the symptoms can range from a sudden onset of chills (always in the evening for me) that turn into flu-like achy symptoms for about 12 hours to the random appearance of a red hard sore area on your breast--or both. you'll need to rest as much as possible and massage the sore area several times a day like you would do with a plugged duct--and feed, feed, feed baby.  sore spot usually disappears in a few days.

avoid plugged ducts and mastitis by not skipping feedings, breastfeeding in multiple positions (cross-cradle, football hold, side-lying), not wearing a bra that can constrict ducts, keeping breasts dry, and resting when you feel run down (ha ha, i know).

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