Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Mastitis: What it is and how to deal with it
Barbara Walters expressed an interest in co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s health today on The View, commenting that she was shivering at the end of yesterday’s show. Elisabeth replied, "I’m OK. I have, what is it called… mastitis … it’s a clogged milk duct that then gets infected." Her son Taylor Thomas will be 4 months this week.
Joy Behar might have thought it was a TMI moment, but mastitis is actually fairly common in breastfeeding moms and can be quite uncomfortable.
According to kellymom.com,
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can be caused by obstruction, infection and/or allergy. The incidence of postpartum mastitis in Western women is 20%; mastitis is not nearly so common in countries where breastfeeding is the norm and frequent breastfeeding is typical. Mastitis is most common in the first 2-3 weeks, but can occur at any stage of lactation. Mastitis may come on abruptly, and usually affects only one breast.
Click continue reading below to find out more about mastitis, symptoms, treatments and how you can avoid it.
- You feel tired, run down, achy, have chills or think you have the flu. A breastfeedingmother who thinks she has the flu probably has mastitis. Mothers with mastitis willsometimes experience these flu-like symptoms, even before they get a fever or notice breasttenderness.
- You have chills or feel feverish, or your temperature is 101F or higher. Thesesymptoms suggest that you have an infection.
- You are feeling progressively worse, your breasts are growing more tender, andyour fever is becoming more pronounced. With simple engorgement, a plugged duct,or mastitis without infection, you gradually feel better instead of worse.
- Recent events have set you up for mastitis: cracked or bleeding nipples, stress or gettingrun down, missed feedings or longer intervals between feedings.
Treatments for mastitis can vary, and it is important that you consultyour health care provider if you suspect mastitis so they can properlydiagnose you. Simple mastitis can become a bacterial infection andrequire an antibiotic. The first recommendation for treatment is always to rest.Since you have flu-like symptoms you should treat yourself like youhave the flu. Get lots of rest and nurse often to work through theblockage. You can also try alternating warm and cold compressions onthe affected breast. Even taking a hot shower can help to increase milk circulation and make you feel alittle better. You can also try massaging the area of tenderness tohelp increase the circulation of milk and unplug the affected duct.
Because mastitis starts with a plugged milk duct, you want to drain theaffected breast as often as possible by nursing (or pumping). Mastitis should nothappen regularly, offering a variety of nursing positions can help youdrain your breasts properly and, hopefully, avoid getting a pluggedduct again. You can take pain relievers for the fever and/or pain. Bothacetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe to take while breastfeeding. Youcan also help to boost your immune system by eating better and drinkinglots of fluids.
There are several ways you can fight to keep mastitis from happening toyou. Don’t restrict the amount of nursing sessions is one key way tofight it. When you limit feeding or ignore nursing cues (like yourbreasts feeling full), you put yourself in a position where a blockedduct is likely to happen. If you’re away from your baby when you wouldnormally nurse, try to pump to relieve the pressure. Sleeping on yourstomach or wearing ill-fitting bras, can also lead to clogged ducts as your breasts are compressed andthe milk may not be able to circulate properly. Also perform regular breastmassages — gentle breast massage can help re-circulate the milk in yourbreast and make you feel more comfortable. Lactation consultants canalso offer more tips and teach you different breastfeeding holds andmassage techniques.
More resources for dealing with and diagnosing mastitis:
Have you ever had mastitis? Do you have any tips for avoiding it or dealing with it?