Originally written after I treated Hayley Pearson of Adelady and she shared the relief I was able to help give her, it's something worth sharing again, so you know there are alternatives.
Physio is a great complimentary & alternative treatment for Mastitis and can provide great relief from the pain & suffering this common condition inflicts on breastfeeding Mums.
Mastitis – The one word that puts women off having more children (OK, maybe ‘tear’, ‘forceps’ and ‘peeing your pants when you snort or laugh’ may also be very effective contraceptives).Humour aside, this painful condition is caused by inflammation of the breast tissue, with or without infection and can get very nasty, very quickly. It can be caused by three main factors: infection, engorgement and blocked milk ducts.
Infection often occurs if there is damage to the nipple (i.e. cracked nipples) allowing bacteria to enter the breast. If mastitis is caused by infection, antibiotics are often required. Engorgement occurs when the breast is not fully emptied and the milk can ‘overflow’ into the milk ducts.
It often happens if your baby is not attaching to the nipple effectively or not draining the breast. Blockages in the milk ducts mean there can be a build-up of milk behind the blockage, allowing milk to pool and bacteria to grow. These blockages may be caused by ill-fitting bras and baby-carriers, compression of the breast in sleeping or even by milk that has almost ‘set’ in the breast.
How do you know if you’ve got mastitis?
Trust me, you’ll know! Part, or all, of the breast may be painful, tender and hot. There is often a ‘lump’ and you may also experience flu-like symptoms (temperature, chills, sweats, body aches…).
So what do you do if you suspect you are developing mastitis?
:: Regular feeding. If this isn’t possible, ensure you’re using a breast pump to try and empty the breast.
:: Heat pack (applied to the breast) before feeding and cold pack after feeding.
:: Pain relief. Paracetamol and anti-inflammatories. Also, ensure you’re getting rest and adequate fluids.
If this doesn’t alleviate the symptoms, physiotherapy can be really helpful. I’ve been treating mastitis for over ten years and find the use of therapeutic ultrasound to open up the milk ducts, as well as massage, can be immediately effective in treating mastitis. It’s not always a ‘pretty treatment’ (think milk sprays) but women walk out of my rooms feeling a whole lot better than when they entered 45 minutes beforehand — and they’ve usually had a giggle in the process.
If you have any questions about dealing with and preventing mastitis, please contact me.