Photo by Edwin de Kemp
As a mother of a newborn I can tell you: breastfeeding can be challenging. The leaking, the engorgement, soggy nursing pads, cracked nipples, having to accept that your breasts aren’t yours (or your partner’s!) anymore… On top of these inconveniences, I also developed a breast infection twice, which is no fun at all. Here I will tell you how that transpired and what you can do to hopefully avoid it.
Breast infection (mastitis)
How to avoid a breast infection when breastfeeding
1. Make sure to empty both breasts regularly and consistently
- In the first few weeks of your newborn’s life, baby will have to be fed around eight times a day. Later on, the frequency can change based on demand.
- Alternate between breasts. For example: when you start with the right one, let baby drink until (almost) satiated, then offer the left one. Next feeding session, start with the left one. You will probably be able to feel which breast to offer first because it feels fuller. It helps to make a note because your brain may not be as sharp as it used to be. Hello hormones!
- If your breasts still feel full after feeding, pump milk to properly empty them and you can build up some stock too.
- You can tell you need to relieve the pressure when your breasts start to feel full and slightly uncomfortable. You will learn when it’s time to empty them. Don’t wait too long! For your own comfort and health.
2. Maintain good hygiene
- Wash your hands before feeding or pumping.
- Change nursing pads regularly.
- Sterilize bottles daily.
- Change your bedding regularly.
3. Inspect your breasts
- Check for lumps: if you find any, it can help to take a hot shower before feeding or pumping.
- During breastfeeding or pumping, massage in the direction of your nipple.
- If the lump doesn’t go away quickly, consult a physician immediately.
4. When in doubt, consult a professional
- In order to be able to care properly for your baby, you should take care of your own health first, so don’t hesitate to seek help.
- My GP was very helpful and understanding and I had a great lactation coach who was so non-judgmental that she deserves a medal.