Breastfeeding is a personal choice and can be more of a challenge than a choice for many women.
Some women struggle with it, some women want to nurse but are unable to, and others may experience complications like mastitis. Your experience with breastfeeding is valid no matter what it entails. Bōsm is here to educate on the incredible benefits of breastfeeding if that’s something you’re able to do, as well as share tips on caring for your breasts during and after nursing.
Breastfeeding is actually healing to women on a chemical level. When a baby is nursing, massive amounts of oxytocin and anandamide are released, which are referred to as the “cuddle hormone” and the “bliss molecule” respectively.
This chemical release is healing for the body, taking us out of “fight or flight” mode and easing us into “rest and digest” mode. Breastfeeding can also lower our heart rate and increase immunity. Research has also shown that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer. (1)
So while there are many benefits to breastfeeding, it can also come with many challenges. One particularly exhausting challenge is mastitis.
Breastfeeding and Mastitis
Mastitis is a condition that can happen to breastfeeding women when milk is left in the breast, a milk duct becomes blocked, or bacteria enters your breast. People who aren’t breastfeeding can also get mastitis, but it’s most commonly experienced in the first six months of breastfeeding. (1)
Mastitis is usually felt first in one breast and can cause pain, discomfort, swelling, and skin that is red and hot to the touch. Some people also experience fevers or chills.
If left untreated, mastitis can lead to an abscess, which feels like a firm, painful lump. Untreated mastitis can also result in painful lymph nodes in the armpit near the breast, increased heart rate, and flu-like symptoms (1). If you experience any of those symptoms, be sure to get treatment quickly.
How to Prevent Mastitis
You can reduce your risks of developing mastitis by ensuring that
- All the milk in the breast is drained after breastfeeding (milk left in the breast can encourage the growth of bacteria)
- Your baby is properly latched to your breast, which reduces the chance of cracked or irritated nipples
- You don’t take long or inconsistent breaks between nursing, as this can cause milk ducts to become blocked
Mastitis is typically treated with antibiotics. While taking antibiotics, you can continue nursing your baby. If it’s too painful to nurse with your infected breast, begin with your healthy breast. Just make sure to drain any milk from your irritated breast, whether through hand expression or a breast pump.
Breast Massage as Holistic Prevention for Mastitis
Regular breast massage before and after breastfeeding can address the root causes of mastitis. You can put a warm towel compress on your breasts to increase milk flow.
After the compress, you can use a massage oil (make sure it’s suitable for breastfeeding women) to gently massage your breasts in a circular motion, starting at the center of your breast and sweeping outward. This ritual can stimulate milk flow and help drain toxins through your lymphatic system, promoting circulation and increased immunity.
Bōsm Wellness is working on a castor-oil free formula for breastfeeding women. Until then, any safe, nourishing moisturizer will do.
The ritual of breast massage can alleviate the painful symptoms of mastitis and be a reminder of how incredible and life-giving our breasts can truly be.
The way that breasts can feed babies is amazing and miraculous. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. For any women experiencing pain or discomfort from breastfeeding, breast massage is a powerful and holistic preventative medicine.
Many women can struggle after breastfeeding and feel like nursing has completely changed their breasts. Their breasts may be left deflated and full of stretch marks, and their nipples may be chaffed, sore, and stretched out.
As difficult as it is to see your body through the intense changes of pregnancy and breastfeeding, it can be a wonderful time to reconnect with and revitalize your relationship to your breasts. Giving yourself a breast massage with the Bōsm Breast Serum can work wonders on bringing life back to your bosom.
Our luxurious, organic formula of nourishing oils does an incredible job of reducing stretch marks, and castor oil especially can heal tired nipples and breasts, making them plump and perky again.
If you’ve experienced the incredible joy (and potential hardships) of breastfeeding, make sure to connect with your breasts after the experience. After all, our breasts are not just for our partners or our babies. They are also for us, and we deserve to show them love and gratitude for all they do.
- “Mastitis While Breastfeeding.” Mastitis While Breastfeeding | Michigan Medicine, 5 Sept. 2018, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw98039.