Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to identify, treat, and prevent Mastitis!

What is mastitis?
Mastitis simply means “Inflammation of the Breast.” Usually this inflammation is a result of a plugged milk duct, or of a bacterial infection within the breast tissue.


There are various causes of mastitis. The first common cause is an ineffective latch-on or sucking technique in the baby. Such things can result in inadequate milk transfer and the back up of milk can cause the mastitis. Also, if a problem with latch is causing  nipple pain in the mother, she might be reluctant to feed as frequently as she may have otherwise. This would cause the breast to not be drained well contributing to the build up of milk. Sometimes a ineffective latch can be due to engorgement in the mother rather than lack of ability on the infants part.
Breastfeeding mothers often experience Mastitis when the baby’s feeding pattern changes or becomes very irregular.
Things that may cause this to occur include:

*The baby begins sleeping for longer stretches.
*Ear infections or teething discomfort in the baby.
*Using pacifiers which reduce the time at the breast
*The baby is being supplemented with water or formula
*Imposing a feeding schedule and limiting time at the breast.
*Simply keeping too busy or returning to work

Another common cause of mastitis is pressure on the breast. Pressure that comes from ill-fitting bras, very tight clothing, sleeping on the stomach, and ill-fitting  manual breast pumps can impede the flow of milk through the ducts. Which causes a unnecessary build up of milk. Other causes include being run-down from stress, poor nutrition and cracked nipples allowing infection into the breast.

Signs and Symptoms of Mastitis
Usually mastitis will occur in one breast only., but can occur in both  breasts at the same time. Although mastitis can occur in any part of the breast, it usually occurs in the upper outer part of the breast because  this part of the breast contains the most tissue. The symptoms are different depending on the root cause of the mastitis.

If  a blocked duct is to blame the mother can experience:
  • Gradual onset of symptoms
  • Tender lump or spot in the breast that may move from one spot to another.
  • Redness
  • Pain is very mild and mother feels generally well.
  • Low fever or no fever at all
  • No unusual warmness in the breast

If an infection is to blame the mother can experience:
  • Sudden onset of symptoms
  • Tender lump or spot in the breast that is localized and does not move
  • Obvious signs of infected cracked nipple (redness, pus, etc.)
  • The breast maybe be swollen, hot and red.
  • Blood and pus may be in the milk
  • Apparent on the skin are red streaks flaring out from the site of infection
  • The mother has flu-like symptoms and feels unwell.
  • Fever is higher

Treatment Options
Seeking immediate treatment is very important because if mastitis left untreated can lead to a life threatening breast abscess. It is a misconception that a mother  with mastitis should stop feeding. This is actually the opposite of  the truth. Women are encouraged to breastfeed as much as possible and at least every 2 hours.  The affected breast’s milk supply is completely safe for baby and baby’s suck can actually help dislodge any blockage.  The mother can help get the milk flowing through a blockage by changing  the position in which she feeds the baby. Usually it is suggested that  the mother utilize a position in which the baby’s chin points in the direction of the affected area . The suggestion is due to the belief that this will cause a stronger suction in the specific location and help release the blockage. One can also find relief by briefly applying gentle heat like that of a warm damp cloth, a warm shower, or immersing the breast in warm water just before feeding to stimulate milk flow. While applying the heat therapy, it may be helpful to massage the breast in firm circular motions near the affected area and alternate the heat with cold packs to further soothe the area. The mother is often advised to act as though one would in treating the flu; plenty of rest, liquids and eating well. Due to the fact that fatigue is a huge contributor to mastitis a mother can also take this time to spend a day on bed rest with baby to maximize baby’s opportunity to feed and  help her rest. Over the counter pain relieving anti-inflammatory medications can also be used. However if a bacterial infection is present or the mastitis is severe, the mother’s doctor may prescribe antibiotic medication. 


To prevent mastitis from occurring or prevent a re-occurrence, a mother should feed the baby without restriction with a good latch, avoid pressure on the breasts from her clothing, bags or sleeping position and take good care of herself with adequate rest and proper nutrition.

Additionally, if the mastitis is reoccurring or does not resolve after a few days the woman may want to consult with her physician to investigate other possible conditions and treatments.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How to Pick a Great and Frugal Halloween Costume for a Baby or Toddler!

Halloween is almost here and panic sets in when you think of picking the perfect costume. You know that your child will be too young to remember yet it is still important to you. Price also comes into play.. do you want to spend an enormous amount of cash on something that will be used once? Well stop panicking and read on to learn about  some great options you have this year to save you money and keep that cutie of yours comfortable and warm! I will share with you some options that I have come across in my search.

Double Duty
Many popular brands of clothing are creating pajamas that double as costumes. Giving you the most for your money and ensuring that your child is extremely comfortable. A comfortable child means that they might actually keep the costume on!
Here are some options like this I have found:

The "Glow in the Dark Skeleton" 
You can buy this in either the traditional black with white bones or you have the choice of pink for a girl! finish the look with some face paint.

The "Race Car Driver"
Your little guy (or gal!) will be ready to go! Finish the look with a ball cap.

The "Little Dancer"
For the sweetest little girl. Complete with a tiny tutu!
A great finishing touch would be some ballet flats and pinning up a bun in any hair she has!
(more like this can be found on

Sweat Suit Costume
Another money saving option is to use a plain colored sweat suit as your base and add on various things to create a custom costume. Then once the events are over, you can simply remove what you added and your child can wear the sweats all winter long!

You can add create animals easily by adding a oval to the tummy, ears to the hood or spots all over! Safety pin a tale on that you make from a stuffed pantyhose. Pipe Cleaners make great antennae and you can attach these to a hood or a headband. You can then paint the childs face or add whiskers with your eyeliner! To make "Veggie" suits, be creative...for example for a Carrot put the child in a orange sweat suit and a orange beanie cap and poke green pipe cleaners through the top of the beanie sticking straight up.

Here are some adorable examples of Sweat Suit Costumes:

A "Red Hot Chili Pepper" is easy, all you need is a red sweat suit a dark green hat and take a piece of green felt and cut a circle in the center and leaves on the edges and just like that you are done. What a cutie!

A Crayola Crayon is fairly easy. You can use solid colored pajamas or sweat suit. This one is definitely one of my favorites! And versatile because you can use any color! How great would it be to get your child's friends in on it and each a different color?

Another of my absolute favorites this year is this Octopus idea! Which is good for really young babies that aren't mobile or older children. Because the hanging parts might trip a wobbly toddler and confuse a crawler. You can make the face simply with adhesive backed felt or you can sew it on and your child can wear it all winter with the cute face left on.

Here are some additional links to DIY costume ideas!

Kaboose: Homemade Halloween costumes
Parents Connect: Extensive list of costume ideas
Rookie Mom: Amazing resource for Costume ideas and inspiration

So you could go out and spend $20, $30 maybe even $50 on a costume for your child this year, but why would you?  There are many frugal options that make more sense. Options that are homemade with love and options that a reusable.  If you insist on a store bought costume, why not host a "Costume Swap" with all your local mom friends to switch costumes that you have from previous years withe each other. Then switch back after the festivities. If all else fails save some money by shopping at a local consignment shop or Craigslist. There is bound to be tons of costumes is near perfect condition. This has inspired me to make my sons costume every year and I hope I inspired you as well. I hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween. Happy Tricks and Treats! ;)