Mastitis an infection of the breast that may occur as early as the seventh postpartal day or when the baby is weeks or months old. This is caused by an organism that enters the mother’s breast through the cracked or fissured nipples.
According to Betzold, author of the An Update on the Recognition and Management of Lactational Breast Inflammation, mastitis refers to the inflammation of the breast, with or without infection or redness and may be caused by a variety of etiologies.
Its presentation ranges from a fairly benign blocked duct to a more serious breast abscess. She further states that the true infectious mastitis can present in a manner that is easily identifiable, and that, in some women, the challenge of recurrent mastitis and its underlying causes might never be discovered.
Though considered benign, if mastitis is untreated early or if two days have passed before initiating treatment, it can lead to serious complications like chronic or recurrent mastitis or breast abscess.
Prevention of mastitis
Measures in preventing cracked and fissured nipples from arising can also be implemented for the prevention of mastitis. These include the following:
- Making certain that the baby is properly positioned and is grasping the nipples correctly, including both the nipples and areola.
- Before removing the baby from the breast, the mother should release first the baby’s grasp on the nipples to keep it from being pulled when terminating breastfeeding.
- Washing your hands after handling perineal pads and touching the breast is a must.
- Keeping the nipples dry by exposing them to air after feeding.
- Use of Vitamin E ointment to soften the nipples daily.