How to Avoid Infections While Breast-Feeding

By Amy Sutton
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Breastfeeding provides a special time of bonding for you and your baby and it has many benefits. It gives your baby the antibodies and nutrients he needs, it digests easily, it reduces your baby's risk of developing certain diseases and it is good for your health too, according to WomensHealth.gov. Unfortunately, breastfeeding can sometimes cause breast infections, but there are some things you can focus on to help avoid getting an infection, such as mastitis, notes AskDrSears.com.

Preventing Engorgement

Step 1

Engorgement is when your breasts are overfilled with milk, making you uncomfortable and causing pain, according to WebMD. It often happens when you have more milk than your baby can drink. This can sometimes lead to mastitis, states AskDrSears.com. Mastitis is often caused by infection and causes your breast to become inflamed, leaving you feeling ill and fatigued, notes WebMD. When milk becomes thicker from not being able to flow, it can also clog your ducts and cause mastitis.

Step 2

Encourage your baby to nurse as soon as you start feeling a fullness in your breasts. Nurse him frequently, and allow him to nurse as long as he likes.

Step 3

Use a breast pump to pump your breasts, if your baby is not nursing well or refuses to nurse when your breasts are full, suggests the La Leche League International.

Step 4

Allow yourself plenty of rest. Nap when your baby naps. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids.

Clogged Milk Ducts

Step 1

Prevent an infection from occurring because of clogged milk ducts. You'll know you have a clogged milk duct if you feel a tender lump just beneath your areola, according to AskDrSears.com. Sometimes you'll also experience redness in the area. Take a hot bath or shower at the first sign of a plugged duct, suggests the La Leche League International, to help unclog the affected milk duct.

Step 2

Massage your breasts, working your way from your armpit down to your nipple, while you're in the bath or shower. Doing this can sometimes loosen the plug, pushing out the dried milk and opening up the milk duct again, according to AskDrSears.com.

Step 3

Place a moist hot pack or towel onto the affected breast for 10 minutes before you're ready to nurse. Breastfeed while your breast is still warm to help unplug the duct more easily, advises the La Leche League International.

Step 4

Encourage your baby to breastfeed as much as possible, especially from the breast that has a clogged duct. Offer the affected breast often, with your baby in his favorite position. Use skin-to-skin contact while cuddling with your baby and keep your breast available, so he can nurse without being pressured, suggests Kelly Mom.

Yeast and Thrush

Step 1

Prevent a yeast infection of the breast, or thrush, which can cause burning pain, swelling and itching, according to the La Leche League International. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands well after using the restroom, and after changing diapers and touching your breasts.

Step 2

Eat a healthy diet, filled with a variety of fresh, natural foods. Avoid large quantities of dairy products, honey, yeasts, sugars, fruit juices and wheat products, since these foods may increase the chance that you and your baby might develop thrush. Eat yogurt that has live cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus in it, which is a helpful type of bacteria, and may help prevent thrush or a yeast infection from returning, suggests WebMD.

Step 3

Wear loose clothing that allows your skin to breathe, including a non-constricting, cotton nursing bra. Yeast organisms can thrive in moist, warm environments. If you wear tight clothing that's not breathable, it encourages yeast fungi to grow, which can cause a yeast infection, according to WebMD.

Step 4

Wash your nipples with clean, warm water after nursing, then allow them to air dry. Keeping your breasts dry inside your bra can help prevent yeast from growing. You should also change your breast pads often, if you wear them, to keep your breasts dry and clean.