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Why bother treating?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the milk duct in a breastfeeding mother which can lead to pain, further duct inflammation, infection and reduce the mother's want and likelihood to continue breastfeeding. There is a current government drive to encourage breastfeeding, as the UK has the lowest rate in the world of breastfeeding mothers.

Why is breast feeding so important?

Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Health benefits to baby include reduction in hospital visits due to infections, SIDS, childhood leukaemia, obesity and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. It is also free!

General background

Only 2% of mothers have the inability to breastfeed, and this can be down mainly to poor milk supply due to gestational diabetes, substantial blood loss postpartum or Sheehan's Syndrome (hypopituitarism). There can also be other biopsychosocial factors that can make it a struggle such as poor support, PND, anatomical difficulties with getting an effective latch, i.e. tongue tie (reduces the ability to latch) or having a high palette in baby.

Why is a good latch important?

Effective drainage and extraction of the milk from a breastfeeding mother means less likelihood for half feeds and milk remaining within the breast tissue. A baby needs the tongue to touch the hard palette to ensure sucking action can be initiated, therefore a tongue tie needs to be acted upon to assist this reflex. An effective latch also ensures less trauma to the mother's nipple and any blebs/scar tissue that can ensue.

What is engorgement?

Engorgement is typically a back log of milk sitting in the milk ducts as a normal response to the mother's body creating milk ready for the baby. Engorgement is characterised with full, heavy and sometimes tender breast tissue. When the engorged tissue is unable to drain, this leads to a milk-duct tissue inflammatory response, with palpable blocked ducts, and reduced milk drainage. This can be typically demonstrated with a reduced ability to feed baby fully i.e. baby will not want to stay on the breast for long and will potentially want to feed more frequently.

Why is this important to understand?

Mothers have the ability to provide all the nourishment for a baby right up to 6 months old, when current weaning guidelines suggest baby led weaning. The mother has two different types of milk - the foremilk (thinner and watery to satiate thirst) and the hind milk (thicker, to satiate hunger). If a baby does not take his/her full feed due to difficulty, they potentially leave behind the thicker hind milk that can lead to blocked ducts and pain from inflammation. It is also important to know that a breastfeeding mother's breast is not a warehouse, but a factory, i.e, milk is created on demand. When mothers experience cluster feeds, as babies go through growth spurts, their bodies have to respond by producing milk very quickly. Once the baby has finished cluster feeding, which can last many days, the body then has to soon start learning how to re-regulate as demand decreases. Some mothers may naturally have an oversupply of their milk, others may experience it after cluster feeding.

Treatment and advice

At Sprint Physiotherapy we have developed our mastitis treatment to help clear blocked ducts, using a combination of specific massage techniques and ultrasound (where appropriate). We can also provide lots of advice on self-management to avoid future recurrences and have an excellent network of other healthcare professionals we can refer you on to, should you need additional care or support. We receive many of our patients through recommendations from lactation consultants and personal referrals from satisfied mothers who have been able to continue breastfeeding after treatment.

Book an appointment with one of our specially trained physiotherapists today if you are suffering from blocked ducts or mastitis. The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner you can get back to feeding in comfort again and we can usually see you within 24 hours.

Please contact us to book an appointment or for more information on any of the services available at our clinic in Kensington.

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Areas covered

Our services cover the following locations (if your location is not listed please don't hesistate to get in touch and ask us if we can help you):

Kensington - W8 - W14 - SW7 - Notting Hill - W11 - W2 - W10 - Chelsea - SW10 - Knightsbridge SW1 - SW3 - Fulham - W6 - Hammersmith - W6 - W12 - Hyde Park and Holland Park, Paddington, Bayswater, Marylebone W1, W2

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Sprint Physiotherapy
Sprint Physiotherapy
2 Drayson Mews
W8 4LY
Paddington Clinic
Sprint Physiotherapy
Winston Churchill Wing
St Mary's Hospital
Winsland Mews
W2 1NY
Hammersmith Clinic
Hydrotherapy Department
Ground Floor, South Wing
Charing Cross Hospital
Fulham Palace Road
W6 8RF
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