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Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions

If breast inflammation is accompanied by flulike symptoms and intense pain, you probably have mastitis, an infection of breast tissue. The most important thing to do for this condition is rest. If you do not care for yourself properly during a bout of mastitis, you could end up with an abscess that requires lancing and draining.

Go directly to bed and nurse your baby as much as possible. If you can, enlist a friend or family member to help with your baby whenever you aren't nursing. Keep moist heat on the affected breast. Bundle up and let the fever run its course rather than lowering it artificially with a drug such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Fever is your body's way of activating the immune system against the infection. The exception to this is a fever over 103°F, which should be brought down as quickly as possible. An enema of slightly cool water will often reduce a high fever, as will inducing diarrhea by taking buffered vitamin C powder in water (start by taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of water, give it a few hours, then take gradually increased doses, up to as much as 5,000 milligrams, as needed). For the usual, low-grade fever (99°F to 102°F), rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take immunity-stimulating vitamins and herbs such as echinacea, olive leaf, vitamin C, and, once daily, about 5,000 international units of vitamin A.

If, after twenty-four hours of total rest and self-care, your symptoms are the same or worse, you may need to take antibiotics. Consult with your doctor. With or without antibiotics, mastitis usually takes two to five days to clear up completely.

Nipple pain
We hate to think of how many mothers give up on nursing because of this problem. The most important way to avoid nipple pain is to be sure your baby is latched on properly. With a newborn, it is almost never as simple as popping the baby on the breast and letting nature take its course. Once milk really begins to flow, two or three days postpartum, proper latching on can seem elusive. You may find you need to be surrounded by stacks of pillows, and even then you might wish you had a third hand to help you maintain the right positioning. If nursing hurts, even a little bit, consult with a lactation specialist for assistance.

Nipple pain that doesn't go away with proper positioning could be due to a breast infection or thrush.


From A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock, Robert Rountree, and Virginia Hopkins with Melissa Block. Copyright 2002 by Dr. Dean Raffelock. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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