Nursing Mamas Beware: Mastitis Could Strike This Holiday Season

There’s nothing that strikes fear into the hearts of nursing moms quite like the word “mastitis.” With its painful body aches, high fever, and other flu-like symptoms, mastitis can put a damper on even the best day. As the holidays approach, many moms might be interested (and a little spooked) to learn that cases of mastitis often spikes during the holidays.

mastitis
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Mastitis is caused when a milk duct becomes clogged and then infected. While the infection can cause extreme breast tenderness and nipple pain both while breastfeeding and not, many moms realize that a painful clogged duct has turned into mastitis when they spike a fever and begin to feel achy all over. Many women also notice a red mark or red streak on their breast that feels hot to the touch.

Once a painful clogged duct has progressed to mastitis, women should head to the doctor right away. Typically, a regular course of antibiotics, along with frequent nursing and a lot of rest, will help clear up the infection but the affected mama will likely be in for at least a day or two more of pain, fever, and achiness as the antibiotics kick in.

While clogged ducts and mastitis can happen at any time of the year, doctors tend to see a spike in mastitis cases during the holiday season. While it might seem odd that this sort of infection tends to happen with greater frequency during a certain time of the year, it makes sense when you think about the root cause of mastitis – a clogged duct that becomes infected. Clogged ducts are caused when, for one reason or another, the breast doesn't empty fully during nursing or pumping.

During the holidays, many people are a little bit busier than usual, often there are holiday obligations, unexpected guests, a rush to finish up work before a vacation, and unanticipated waiting. For nursing mothers, all of the disruptions in routine and distractions can mean that nursing or pumping sessions get cut short or spread out a little bit more than is typical. When this happens women are more likely to develop clogged ducts that can lead to mastitis.

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So, if you’re a nursing mother, be sure to take the time you need this holiday season to take care of your baby and yourself. Rest, nurse or pump frequently and stay healthy!

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Nursing Mamas Beware: Mastitis Could Strike This Holiday Season

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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