Mastitis – What Is It, and What Should You Do?

Breast cancer concept - Woman holding her breast

Don’t breastfeed in the same position each time – switch it up!

Mastitis is a breast tissue infection that usually occurs in women who are breastfeeding. Mastitis causes breast pain, swelling, warmth, and redness in the breast. 

Though many women may be deterred from continuing to breastfeed when experiencing mastitis, it is okay to carry on doing so. According to Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of mastitis can include:

  • breast(s) feeling tender or warm to the touch;
  • feeling ill (malaise);
  • swelling of the breast;
  • constant or burning sensation while breastfeeding;
  • skin redness, often in a wedge-shaped pattern; and
  • fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or greater.

Along with the above symptoms, sufferers of mastitis usually experience flu-like symptoms, which become apparent before the breast shows signs of the condition. Mastitis is typically treated with antibiotics, so it’s important to visit your doctor if you recognize symptoms of the condition.

 { MORE:  Common Breastfeeding Problems }

There are a number of risk factors associated with Mastitis. These are, as listed by Mayo Clinic:

  • breastfeeding during the first few weeks after childbirth;
  • sore or cracked nipples (although mastitis can develop without broken skin);
  • using only one position to breast-feed, which may not fully drain your breast;
  • wearing a tight-fitting bra, which may restrict milk flow;
  • becoming overly tired (fatigued); and
  • previously having a bout of mastitis while breastfeeding. (If you've experienced mastitis in the past, you are more likely to experience it again.)

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Mastitis – What Is It, and What Should You Do?

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10 comments

  1. Cherokee says:

    I found this very intersting

  2. Nathifa says:

    how would you know when one is fully drained

    • Hi Nathifa! Basically, you want to allow baby to nurse at one side (or pump from that side) until the milk has slowed and the baby seems satisfied (or the breast milk isn’t flowing anymore). Your breasts are never truly empty, as they’ll continue to make milk as long as needed, but you want to allow sufficient time on a side before making a switch. Some babies will only feed on one side per feeding, and that is fine, you can simply start with the other side at the next feed. Hope that helps to answer your question!

  3. Kenzi says:

    how do you know if there’s a blockage?

  4. Ashley says:

    I really found this article helpful and interesting. I had never heard of this happening before now. New mom (:! I can tell you I am very nervous, but after reading some of these articles and blogs I do not feel alone. Thanks for such a wonderful and helpful page.

  5. LIZ says:

    good reagin tnx

  6. Monica says:

    This article really helped, My son is 12wks and I haven’t had a issue yet…I always change positions just because he’s getting bigger and I can always tell when it’s time to stop simply because my breasts feel so much lighter…

  7. stephanie says:

    I found this article very helpful but my question is how do you know when the milk is fully drained out your breast?

    • Kim Shannon says:

      Hi stephanie! I know that, personally, I could tell because my breast was literally “deflated”!! It went from being hard and “full of milk,” to a deflated, empty balloon.

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