Breastfeeding is amongst the first initial physical contacts that a mother experiences with her newborn and also the best feeling for a woman in her whole life. It is strongly recommended by the doctors as it is the only way to provide all the essential nutrients to babies soon after their birth. A hormone named Oxytocin is responsible for the production of milk in breasts and helps bond with the baby (1). A common problem among feeding women named as mastitis or mammitis may occur in the first 3 months after delivery that can inhibit them to feed the infant. Among lactating women it is known as puerperal mastitis while with the women not related to pregnancy or feeding, it is termed as non-puerperal. It is basically the inflammation of breast tissue that leads to bacterial infection. The severity of this condition may vary from mild to serious. Most common symptoms of mastitis are breast lump, fever, tenderness, pain, swelling etc (2). Staphylococcus aureus is the etiological organism responsible for it. Preeminent reasons that result in this ailment are moving of bacteria from baby’s mouth up to a milk duct, oversupply of milk, etc.
Such a condition demands extra care and effective methods to eliminate its effects. Here, we are with some remarkable natural remedies that can aid you to get quick relief from mastitis.
Home Remedies for Mastitis
Commonly, mothers quit feeding their infants due to pain and swelling in breasts which results into breast engorgement and develops mastitis. To overcome this difficulty, one must continue feeding every 2 hours, even at night (3).
If you are suffering from mastitis, massaging the infected areas with some oil may provide you protection, as it helps unblock the milk ducts. This will cure pain and swelling. Massage from the outer part of breasts towards the nipples in a circular motion with pressure on the affected portions (4).
Note: Wash your breasts properly after the massage, as the oil you have applied may be harmful to the baby.
3. Proper Rest
It seems strange, but yes, improper rest may also promote mastitis. Your life suddenly changes after delivery and all your time gets occupied with the chores related to the baby. So, if you find any such symptoms try to rest as much as possible (5).
4. Hot and Cold Compresses
Another easy and highly efficient method to get rid of mastitis is hot and cold compresses (6). Hot one opens the blockages, enhances blood circulation and improves milk flow whereas cold compress eliminates swelling and the unbearable pain. At first, place a hot water bottle wrapped in a thin piece of cloth for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, wrap some ice cubes in it and apply to affected portion for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat the same process for 2 or 3 times a day as per your requirement.
Using cabbage for mastitis is an alternative effective treatment (7). It offers anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial actions that alleviate this problem up to a great extent. The presence of sulfur compounds reduces the chances of augmenting infection and regulates swelling. To do away with clogged ducts and engorgement, you are required to keep a few leaves of fresh cabbage in the refrigerator and put it on the infected parts of breasts. Do this until you feel relieved of pain and swelling.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar for Mastitis
Apple cider vinegar is another effective natural remedy for mastitis. The presence of acetic acid in ACV makes it an active antimicrobial agent (8). Thus, it decreases inflammation and combats against infection. Also, it is a great energy booster. You can prepare a solution of ACV with 1 part of it and 2 parts of warm water. Apply it on your breast with the help of a cotton ball and let it be there for 15 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Repeat the same procedure 2 or 3 times in a day to curb the infection.
- Alternatively, you can mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with some honey in a cup of water and have it 3 times a day for 1 or 2 weeks.
7. Vitamin C
Lack of intake of vitamin C may increase the chances of mastitis as its supplements are of great importance to nursing moms (9). If you are a nursing mom going through this problem, your body needs to be regularly refilled with vitamin C. Take 4 capsules of it every four hours till your breast infection disappears.
8. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties due to which they are used to cure many issues related to breasts. It combats against staphylococcus aureus (the bacteria responsible for mastitis) (10) thus, used in the mastitis treatment. Also, fenugreek seed tea is an effective solution for the nursing moms who can’t produce enough milk for their babies. To control mastitis, soak about 4 tablespoons of these seeds overnight in water. Next morning, grind these seeds to form a fine paste and warm it on a stove or oven. Use this paste as a hot compress on the affected area. Repeat the same two times a day for 1 or 2 weeks.
- Alternatively, you can prepare tea using these seeds and have it 2 or 3 times every day.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic properties (11). Acrylic acid in coconut oil has an effective antibacterial effect, thus, reduces the swelling, redness, and pain that occurs due to mastitis (12). You can massage with it on the affected breasts and nearby areas. Wash it off properly before feeding your infant.
- Alternatively, you can consume 4 tablespoons of it every day.
Pineapple is rich in bromelain content known as a natural anticoagulant and this enzyme has effective anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, fibrinolytic and antiedematous properties (13). Hence, you can get relief from the problem of mastitis by including pineapple juice in your diet. It soothes pain and helps unblock the milk ducts.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that are considered quite beneficial in the treatment of mastitis and other breast related problems. It is very difficult to treat mastitis using antibiotics, thus, probiotics are preferred in such cases. According to a research, oral administration of Lactobacillus salivarius PS2 during last weeks of pregnancy is an extremely effective method to get rid of this problem and its symptoms (14).
Garlic is a wonderful home remedy to cure mastitis. It is a natural antibiotic and offers antiseptic properties (15). Staphylococcus aureus is gram positive bacteria and is vulnerable to the toxic effects of garlic (16, 17). Sprinkle a pinch of salt on some slices of raw garlic and chew them.
Honey is considered as an effective home remedy to combat against many kinds of bacteria, out of which one is Staphylococcus aureus (18). Due to this reason, honey is used since long to treat the problem of mastitis. Antimicrobial property on Manuka honey controls the growth of these pathogenic bacteria (19).
Herbal Remedies for Mastitis
Calendula is widely known for its efficacy to heal pain and swelling (20). Due to this, it is a highly efficient home remedy to cure swelling and unbearable pain that accompanies mastitis. Make a fine paste using calendula flowers and comfrey leaves in equal amounts. Warm this paste and apply it over the inflamed portion. Let it be there for 15 to 20 minutes and then remove it using lukewarm water. Repeat the same procedure for 3 or 4 times a day.
- Also, you can opt for a calendula ointment and apply it to the infected breasts 2 or 3 times every day.
1) Don’t skip washing your breasts with lukewarm water before breastfeeding.
2) Avoid oral consumption of this herb during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Echinacea is well known immune system enhancer. With this, it also bolsters the body to fight against different kinds of infections. Hence, used as an herbal remedy to treat mastitis (21). You can use the extract of its root and apply it to the infected portion daily 4 or 5 times. Don’t forget to wipe it off before breastfeeding.
- Alternatively, you can use this effective herb by adding its 4 or 5 drops to a glass of water. Have this mixture for 3 or 4 times every day for utmost a week.
Note: Long-term usage of this herb may prove dangerous for you.
16. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is widely known for its enormous medicinal uses. It has antiviral, astringent, antibacterial, emollient, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties (22). Due to this, it is used for the treatment of mastitis and many other breast related infections and ailments. If you are suffering from mastitis, excerpt aloe vera leaf gel and spread it over the affected area. Let it dry for some time and then wash it off with warm water. Repeat the same procedure as many times as you require in a day.
Note: Keep in mind to rinse it properly before feeding your baby.
17. Lavender Oil
Essential oil of lavender has been used for years as a home remedy to soothe pain, minor burns, and aches (23). You can manage the breast pain and swelling that result due to mastitis by rubbing it or massaging it on the inflamed breasts.
- Alternatively, you can use lavender tea bags. Put them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Soak a clean cloth in the solution and apply on the infected area.
18. Oregano Oil
Oregano essential oil has anti-infectious, antiviral, analgesic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Thus, this oil has the capability to eliminate S. aureus and this makes it one of the best natural remedies for mastitis and its related problems (24). Also, it is an immune-stimulant and an effective tonic. For mastitis, you just need to take capsules filled with this oil for 2 times every day for not more than 5 days.
Note: Handle this oil with care and keep it out of the reach of children.
19. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and many other medicinal properties that help you get rid of breast engorgement and other problems (25). It is a great essential oil for mastitis. Spread undiluted tea tree oil on the inflamed breast using the alternative hot and cold compresses.
Note: Rinse off your breast area properly before feeding your infant.
- Change your breastfeeding positions.
- Wear a padded or supportive bra.
- Pump or hand express milk as much as possible (26).
- Take a long hot shower (27).
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids (28).
- Support the breasts properly as it will provide comfort to you (29).
- Make sure baby’s nose and mouth are clean before feeding.
- Avoid overfilling of breasts with milk (breast engorgement) as it may make them harder and more swollen (30).
- Don’t use wet and untidy nursing pads.
- Stop wearing a tight bra.
- Don’t avoid visiting a doctor in case pain or swelling increases.
- Avoid abruptly inhibiting breastfeeding.
- Do not use very hot water as it may burn your skin.