Unpumped breast milk can lead to a serious blood infection sepsis

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“My breasts were sensitive to touch, like sunburn is, and a fairly permanent kind of burning ache set up on my chest, waxing and waning as they filled and emptied.”

As if breastfeeding isn’t already tricky for mothers, it’s going to be even trickier. Now, according to studies, breastfeeding mothers need to express milk when it gets full. Evidence suggest that breastmilk engorgement renders women more prone to infections.

According to an NPR report, the swelling from engorgement, which is often painful, has the potential to cause medical issues to the mother and reduce her milk supply. The scary thing is most mothers do not even know about it.

“When I had my first and started breast-feeding, I was completely unprepared for any of it. I knew nothing, not even what was normal,” says Alissa Parker in the NPR report.

Her first child came after she earned her master’s degree in nursing; she has since become an international board certified lactation consultant in Ashland, Ky.

“Breast-feeding education for health care providers is that weak.”

Alissa describes engorgement as stressful, and not unlike a ticking bomb. “The main thought in your head is, 'How can I get this to stop; when can I pump or feed my baby?’”

Lactating mothers are also prone to mastitis, high fevers, and chills. Mastitis causes infection, severe pain, and a burning sensation in the region.

Meanwhile, another mother Madeleine Ware from New Zealand, says the pain from engorgement is hard to describe.

“My breasts were sensitive to touch, like sunburn is, and a fairly permanent kind of burning ache set up on my chest, waxing and waning as they filled and emptied," she says. “I wouldn't want my pilot distracted by a burning feeling in her breasts, or hesitant to lean over to perform certain actions because of the risk of pain.”

In fact, one in every lactating mothers who breastfeed experience mastitis during their first month, says an NCBI study.

“In addition to pain and the burning sensation, lactating mothers are more prone to sepsis, which is a form of blood poisoning which can be fatal,” says a Parent Herald story. “In severe cases, lactating mothers who were not able to pump their breastmilk may need to go through operation if the condition worsens.”

It is important then for lactating mothers to breastfeed regularly, express excess milk, and be given ample opportunity to do so.

For working mothers, experts advise that they have a breast bump at hand when needed, as well as empty bottles in which to store the milk.

READ: Can breastfeeding help reduce the risk of SIDS?

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Written by

James Martinez