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Getting Past Breastfeeding Barriers

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a painful inflammation of the milk glands caused by a blockage. "It can happen even in a mom who is nursing well, just because some milk ducts get plugged and bacterial growth occurs," McCoy explains.

"The most difficult thing we have to say to moms is that they should continue to nurse the baby," she tells WebMD. "That will help draw the milk out, which will help pull the infection out. If she quits nursing, her breasts will become more engorged, which increases the pain and makes the infection worse."

Symptoms of mastitis are redness, warmness, and tenderness of a portion of the breast, along with fever. You should see your doctor if this occurs.

How can women more easily continue breastfeeding after they go back to work?

Get yourself a good electric pump -- preferably one not made by any formula company, which is likely to be poorly made, Garrison says. "A good electric pump allows you to pump both breasts at one time; you can be done in 10-15 minutes," she tells WebMD.

Work with your employer to negotiate a schedule and set up a private area to pump. Volunteer to take shorter lunch breaks in exchange for two extra 15-minute breaks during the day. Or stay half an hour later.

If there's no private spot available, use your imagination. According to Garrison, women have shown great creativity in finding quiet spaces: a copy room, an infrequently used conference area, the school nurse or guidance counselor's office.

It takes practice to become comfortable breastfeeding in public, Garrison says. "It definitely takes practice to learn which of your clothing is the most discreet. I took a light crocheted blanket so there were a lot more openings for air," she says. "And I could flip that over my shoulder so nobody really knew what was going on.

If there's no solution with your employer, eliminate the feedings for the hours you will not be available to nurse the baby, McCoy advises. "It's amazing how resilient the mom's body is in adjusting to that. If it needs milk at 6 p.m., it will make milk at 6 p.m. It takes just a few weeks for the mom's body to adjust," she says. "But if they start that process a few weeks before they go back to work, their bodies will adapt -- and so will their babies, in most cases."

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