Mastitis is most common in the first few weeks after birth and during the holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Mothers who are nursing and/or pumping tend to stretch the time between feedings, and may not care for themselves as well when faced with the demands of the holiday season: shopping, hosting, cooking, wrapping, and attending gatherings with family and friends.
How can you prevent mastitis?
- Nurse or pump regularly. Sticking with your regular routine to keep those breasts happy is the best way to ward off mastitis.
- Stay hydrated and nourished. Nursing/pumping moms need to drink plenty of water and stay fueled up in order to make milk and live life well. Take a water bottle with you whoever you go, and prioritize protein and iron in the foods you eat (enjoy a beverage and some sweets too!)
- Rest. Maybe you can’t nap every time the baby or nursling does, but could you nap a few times a week? Or go to bed as soon as the kids are asleep some nights? Prioritizing your rest will give you the stamina you need to care for your family and make holiday magic.
- Simplify–Take your newborn and a helper with you to get your shopping list done. Or, leave the baby at home with your partner or another caregiver with a bottle of pumped milk, and take your hand pump along for the errands and some kid-free time. Order some of your party food or sides from Whole Foods or Publix. Hire someone to do your outdoor decorating or just put out fewer decorations all around! Cook double of a few meals so you can freeze for later or eat the leftovers a few days a week. Whatever you do–simplify in ways that work for you and your family in this season of parenting and merriment!
What if I get mastitis?
You’ll notice a painful breast, typically with a “knot” area, and redness on the skin. It may feel tender and warm to the touch. You will often develop a fever, and feel like you have the flu. Call your maternity care provider right away–usually, the infection can be addressed over the phone, and a prescription for antibiotics can be called in to your pharmacy. Your provider will select an antibiotic that is appropriate for breastfeeding, and it’s really important to keep nursing/pumping as usual. If you end up with mastitis, rest, hydration, and continued nursing are key to a quick and complete recovery–and finish those antibiotics!
We’re here to help!
To learn more about breast health, breastfeeding, and pumping, check out our Eventbrite page for classes, offered monthly!
Heather Price is an integral part of the Baby+Company Nashville education team. Formerly a high school English teacher and district-wide mentor for a Middle Tennessee public school system, she is now a trained childbirth educator and labor doula. She completed her childbirth educator training with the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) and is certified as an ICCE. She has also recently become a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Teaching and learning course through her veins, and she is an enthusiastic and compassionate facilitator in the classroom. A most useful part of her training so far has been that of preparing for, birthing, and mothering her own two little ones.