Mastitis

Mastitis is a fairly common occurrence in breastfeeding parents. About 10% to 20% of lactating women will get this infection at some point. Mastitis happens when the breast tissue becomes inflamed, either by a plugged or clogged milk duct, bacteria entering the breast (sometimes through a cracked or bleeding nipple) or another infection or allergy.

Symptoms

See your healthcare provider if you have these mastitis symptoms:

  • fever
  • red streaks on your breast
  • a swollen lump in the breast
  • flu-like symptoms such as body aches or extreme tiredness

Prevention

The best way to avoid this painful breastfeeding problem? Remove milk from your breasts regularly!

  • Feed and pump often.
  • If your baby can’t or won’t nurse, make sure you remove milk with a pump.
  • Avoid very tight-fitting bras (such as underwire) or tops, which can put pressure on the breast tissue and cause inflammation.

Treatment

If you do end up with mastitis at some point, it’s easily treated. See a healthcare provider, who will often prescribe antibiotics. Keep breastfeeding regularly, especially on the side that is affected, which will help a clog clear faster. Heat, massage and over-the-counter meds can help with pain and discomfort. Sometimes, a dangle feed—when a mother literally dangles her breast in her baby’s mouth—can also help.

Most cases of mastitis resolve in a few days, according to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. So if you’re suffering from mastitis, rest up and feed on!

See also ...

•  Plugged ducts and mastitis

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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