This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
Many new mothers find that breast-feeding doesn’t come as naturally as they’d expected. When you have finally mastered the technique, you may have to cope with the common and painful problem of a blocked duct, which may lead on to mastitis. ‘That can really test even the most dedicated mother’s commitment to breastfeeding, but there are quite simple ways to manage it,’ says Emma Cannon, the complementary women’s health specialist whose devoted patients include Sophie Dahl and Eva Herzigova.
In her new book, You and Your Bump, Emma leads readers through all the stages of motherhood, from pre-conception, via pregnancy and birth, to early motherhood including breastfeeding. Here’s her advice on treating blocked ducts and mastitis:
- A hard painful lump in your breast is probably a blocked duct; if a section of your breast is red, sore, hard and painful, more than one duct is involved and it may be mastitis, where the breast isn’t draining properly and milk becomes stagnant.
- With either set of symptoms, consult your midwife, GP or breastfeeding nurse. The following tips should also help. (If you have mastitis, you may need a course of antibiotics, but you can still do them.)
- Apply heat to the affected breast eg a hot flannel, hot water bottle, hot bath/shower, or a warmed wheat pack before and after feeding. Also massage the affected area, circling gently with fingertips, to enhance drainage.
- Lay raw cabbage leaves on the tender breast to soothe it at any time.
- Rest is vital, so go to bed with your baby as much as you can. Mastitis is often caused by stress and overtiredness so let family and friends help you.
- Check your breastfeeding technique with your midwife: mastitis can be caused by bacteria entering breast due to cracked or sore nipples so correct attachment is vital.
- Changing the position in which your baby is latched on can help: try pointing baby’s chin to the tender breast to help drainage. This may mean some unusual positions such as lying down with your baby’s body over your shoulder, toes by your ear.
- Put baby to the affected breast every two to three hours, to help drain it. Mastitis may make your milk taste a bit salty so he/she may not feed so enthusiastically (although it’s not harmful at all). If so – and your breasts still feel full – express milk until it no longer flows, either by hand or a good breast pump, and feed to baby in a bottle. Look out for lots of clear urine and yellow stools to reassure yourself that baby is getting enough nourishment.
- See an experienced qualified acupuncturist (for local ones, visit acupuncture.org.uk) as soon as possible.
- Make sure you have a well-fitting bra: one that’s too tight can contribute to you developing mastitis. Choose cotton so that air can circulate.
- Don’t use soap when washing your breasts as it dries out your skin.
YOU and Your Bump by Emma Cannon, £14.99, pub Rodale, is available from Amazon for £7.50
A prickly problem solved
Another practical reader tip to help prevent prickly heat. Valerie writes: ‘After suffering for many years, I changed from a sun cream to a dry oil and have never had it since.’ Try Hawaiian Tropic Protective Dry Oil Spray SPF20 from Boots stores and online at boots.com, £12.76 for 200ml. And please remember that car windows don’t protect you from UVA rays. According to a report by Solar Gard (solargard.co.uk), who make UV-rejecting window film, only 8 per cent apply sun preps before a long car journey. So slop on the sun prep even when it’s a grey day: those rays penetrate cloud as well as glass.
A new trick for old dogs
Former Olympic runner David Wilkie, who pioneered the use of glucosamine supplements for joint problems after having benefited himself, has now joined TV vet Joe Inglis to launch Active Joints for dogs, which includes glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, hyaluronic acid and MSM, all well-proven compounds. The Vet’s Kitchen Active Sauces range (just pop them on top of food) also offers Healthy Digestion and Healthy Skin. Mollie, a nine year old black lab with creaky knees, is trying out Active Joints for me now, so I will report later. £6.99 each from petskitche.co.uk, with free UK delivery on orders over £30.
Website of the week: blood.co.uk
Donating blood is as vital now as ever. The NHS needs 7000 units a day to meet demand. Some years ago, I needed five pints during surgery so I feel a bit passionate about this. More information and how to make an appointment from this website, or call 0300 123 23 23.