Nursing, Breast Soreness, and Mastitis
Posted by Jillian Rieckmann
During pregnancy, us moms tend to read a library full of books on what’s happening in our bodies, what to buy, what to wear, and all of the things that we are supposed to do after baby is born. With the plethora of information out there, it can be overwhelming and sometimes even hard to talk about when every detail doesn’t go according to plan.
When it comes to nursing, us moms tend to feel like we should know exactly what to do, that it will just happen perfectly and then, when it doesn’t, some will get really stressed (which only exasperates the problem) or worse yet, they may give up altogether.
Nursing although a natural process, does not always come naturally for the majority of women. Trust me, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are many ways to support your ability to nurse by relieving stress and discomforts, increasing your milk supply, and giving your body the nutrients and love it needs to function optimally using massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and self care treatments. Massage for nursing and lactation can be incredibly beneficial.
A full body relaxation massage or acupuncture treatment will help to reduce stress and increase blood flow to support the circulation of nutrients in your body. A specific breast massage and the administration of acupuncture, or acupressure by your practitioner, yourself, or your partner will stimulate the let down of your milk supply and relieve engorgement.
Massage and acupuncture while nursing can also be used to relieve back and neck pain associated with poor posture and a heavier chest, as well as helping to stretch the chest muscles to help bring the shoulders back to allow for better circulation and lymphatic flow to your breast tissues.
Some other ways to increase milk flow are to:
• Drink LOTS of fluids (water, peppermint tea, and milk thistle tea are great)
• Pump after each nursing session to trick your body into thinking baby has a larger demand for milk
• Self breast massage and acupressure (*we can teach you)
• Getting all required nutrients with a diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein, healthy fats
• Finding ways to calm and reduce stress
• Moderate exercise (with Doctor’s approval)
Another common reason for women to struggle with nursing is the development of mastitis (inflammation of one or more of the mammary glands, which can be caused by an infection or clogged milk duct). When woman develop mastitis from nursing a common reaction is to stop, but if mastitis occurs it is actually more beneficial to continue nursing, because nursing will help you to heal faster.
Both massage and acupuncture can help to flush the breast and reduce inflammation and breast soreness caused my mastitis. You can also reduce pain by applying a compress of warm water, lavender, rose, and geranium oils to your breast for 15 min. at a time (always wash breasts well before nursing after any application).
Nursing is so beneficial to the health of both Mother and baby. Nursing helps build a stronger emotional connection, heals the uterus quicker, and helps to burn excess fat stores for the mother.
For baby, breast‐feeding provides nutrients and antibodies to support a healthy immune system, protects against tooth decay and reduces the risk of childhood obesity. Breast milk is easier to digest and reduces the risk or allergic reactions to formulas, and of course, requires no prep.
At Whole Family health we recommend nursing for as long as possible to give yourself and your baby life long support for health and wellness.