Can Pumping Help Mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammatory condition of the breast tissue, which may or may not be associated with an infection. Mastitis is generally seen to be affecting breastfeeding women. However, non-breastfeeding women and men too, can get affected with mastitis.

Can Pumping Help Mastitis?

Can Pumping Help Mastitis?

Mastitis can be caused by a blocked milk duct that gets infected, or it may be due to engorgement of the breast because of which the excess milk enters the surrounding breast tissue to make it inflamed. In either of the reasons of mastitis and, considering that mastitis is often seen in breastfeeding women, pumping can prove to be very beneficial in reducing the inflammation and relieving the symptoms caused by the build-up of milk.

Pumping is one of the ways to tackle the problem of mastitis at the beginning stages. Let us have a look at pumping and other methods that help alleviate the signs and symptoms of mastitis.

Continue to feed:

  • It is advisable to continue to feed your baby as you did earlier.
  • Weaning the baby at this stage or keeping a long gap in between feeds is very likely to worsen the symptoms.
  • The frequent emptying of the breasts will make sure that there is no build-up of milk in the ducts, which might increase the severity of the condition.
  • The longer the gap between the feeds, more are the chances of worsening of the condition.

Pumping or hand-expressing:

  • After your baby is done with feeding, remove as much of the leftover milk as possible
  • This can be done either by doing a manual expression process or by using a breast pump for the same
  • Removing any leftover milk ensures that the milk does not get accumulated to clog the milk ducts
  • Also, together with the new milk that is produced, the leftover milk will cause a build-up of the milk and it will result in breast engorgement or clogged milk ducts as well, worsening the condition

Frequent feedings:

  • Emptying the breasts is of utmost importance
  • Feeding the baby frequently can facilitate this
  • Feeding the baby on demand is also recommended
  • The affected breast should be offered first, so that the milk does not build-up in the affected breast again if the baby stops feeding midway
  • However, the other breast should be emptied too, as it might get inflamed if it becomes and stays too full

Gentle massage:

  • A gentle massage or applying a gentle pressure on the breast from just behind the sore spot and towards the nipple will help in draining the breast efficiently
  • Even while the baby is feeding you can keep applying a gentle pressure for mastitis

A warm compress:

  • A warm compress can help to drain the milk with less efforts
  • If done just before the feeds or afterwards, it helps to drain any leftover milk easily
  • However, warm compress should be used minimally and not always for mastitis

A cold compress:

  • The inflammation and pain can be alleviated with the use of cold compress
  • It can be used in between the feeds to alleviate the pain.

Rest enough:

  • Resting as much as you can is recommended by clinicians for mastitis
  • Resting will ensure that your body has enough energy to fight off the condition

Mastitis is an inflammatory condition of the breast tissue. It may or may not be associated with an infection. In breastfeeding women, mastitis usually occurs due to milk stasis, which causes blockage or clogging of milk ducts. If it advances, it may turn into an infection or even an abscess. In non-breastfeeding women, the reason of mastitis is usually a bacterial infection. Mastitis may be very painful at times. Some measures like a warm compress, massage or pumping can help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by mastitis. However, if the symptoms do not get better or keep worsening, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly so that the condition does not progress further.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 4, 2018

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