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  • Janette O'toole

Breastfeeding: Tips to prevent inflammatory conditions of the breast

Mastitis, ‘blocked ducts’ and engorgement are common conditions reported with breastfeeding. Symptoms of breast pain, lumps, tenderness, hardness or redness in the breast, fever, ‘flu-like symptoms’ or fatigue can be reported.

Breast feeding consultants and physiotherapists with specialised training in treating conditions of the lactating breast can assist with treatment and management of these.

However simple measure in new parents can help reduce the risk of developing these problems.

- Early skin to skin

This is most important in the first few hours and first few days after birth.

- Frequent flexible feeding and unrestricted access to the breast

Offer the breast to your baby without trying to determine if the baby is hungry. It is not necessary to wait for cues before offering the breast.

- The breast is never empty

Frequent shorter feeds of feeding can be more effective for some babies than spaced, longer feeds. One or both breasts can be offered with each feed. The length of feed may vary significantly over a 24 hour period.

- Gentle movement of the breast tissue

Gentle arm exercises or deep breathing exercises can be helpful.

- Avoid applying firm pressure to the breast tissue

This may prevent milk transfer during feeding or may cause micro-trauma to the breast tissue. Avoid firm and sustained breast ‘massage’. Take care to avoid compression of the breast if using a breast pump. Bras should be well-fitted or they may also cause compression of breast tissue.

If you experience any breast pain, tenderness, redness or lumps in the breast during breast feeding, physiotherapy can offer support and treatment to help. This may include therapeutic ultrasound, providing tubigrip to support the breast tissue, taping to encourage lymphatic drainage and teaching you how to do gentle (pain free) lymphatic massage and exercises to help.

Please call 02 9518 0722 for further information or if you would like to book an appointment with a physiotherapist who has completed specialised training in treating conditions of the breast during breast feeding.


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