Everything you need to know about Mastitis

Mastitis

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an infection of the milk ducts and is one of the more serious breastfeeding complications. If the skin around your nipples appears red and inflamed and feels hot and you have a fever, you may have contracted mastitis.

What causes mastitis?

Mastitis can be caused by an improperly or untreated plugged duct or cracked nipples, which allow germs to enter the breast tissue. It is most common in the first 2-3 weeks of breastfeeding, but can occur in any stage of lactation.

Prevention

There is no sure fire way to prevent the onset of mastitis, but experts agree that a healthy, balanced diet, lots of water and properly emptying the breasts at every feeding are your best bets. Avoid letting your breasts become too full or engorged, and massage any tight spots on your breasts while nursing to encourage the flow of milk.

Treatment

• Go see a doctor to determine the best approach
• If possible, continue breastfeeding as often as you can. If not, pump frequently
• Take a mild pain reliever to help with discomfort and inflammation
• Apply moist compress or soak breast in warm water before feedings. Massage the affected area using a gentle but firm circular motion after warm soaks.

Will my baby be okay?
If you are being treated for mastitis, you should continue nursing as often as possible. Don’t worry about potentially harming your baby, as they will be safe due to the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Mother Nature has your little one covered!

Please visit La Leche League’s FAQ on mastitis to learn more about mastitis.