Mastitis is an infection of the breast which results in inflammation, pain and swelling. This condition can happen to anyone but it’s usually common during the first 6 months of breastfeeding. Mastitis can leave you feeling tired with fever and chills.
What causes mastitis ?
Mastitis can be caused by one of the following :
A blocked milk duct : One of the milk ducts can become clogged if the breast doesn’t completely empty during feedings. This causes milk to back up which leads to breast infection.
Bacterial infection :Cracked or damaged nipples can cause germs to enter the breast and lead to breast infection.
Am I at risk ?
You are at risk for this condition if you fall into the following categories .
- breastfeeding during the first week of delivery
- being a first time mom
- using only one position to breastfeed which may not fully drain the breast
What are the symptoms of mastitis ?
This breast infection can present symptoms such as the following :
- continuous burning sensation of the breast during feeding
- breast tenderness and warmth
- redness of the skin especially in a wedge – shaped pattern
- if you’ve had mastitis before
Will it affect my baby ?
Mastitis will not affect your baby but it can reduce your milk supply. It is important to continue breastfeeding through the inflammation and pain. This will keep your milk supply flowing and avoid further blockage. Applying warm compressions to the breast or taking a warm shower before breastfeeding can help make nursing tolerable. If your baby doesn’t finish emptying the breast, pump the remaining milk.
How is it treated ?
It is important to get enough rest to help you fight the infection. You also need to drink lots of fluids and keep breastfeeding. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers to help clear the infection. The doctor or a lactation consultant will review with you breastfeeding techniques that will help you fully empty your breast during breastfeeding.
How can I avoid getting mastitis ?
You can take these steps to reduce your risk of getting mastitis.
- during breastfeeding be sure that the baby fully empties the milk from the breast
- change breastfeeding positions from one feeding to another
- allow the baby to completely empty one breast before moving on to the next breast
- make sure your baby latches well during feeding
- if the baby does not nurse from the second breast or latches for a few minutes, you should start breastfeeding on that breast during the next feeding
- do not let your baby use your breast as a pacifier
Mastitis. Mayo Foundation. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mastitis/basics/definition/con-20026633. Accessed April 27, 2015
Mastitis while breastfeeding. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/mastitis-while-breast-feeding-topic-overview?page=2. Accessed April 27, 2015
Mastitis. Baby center. http://www.babycenter.com/0_mastitis_251.bc?showAll=true. Accessed April 27, 2015