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What Breastfeeding Moms Should Know About Mastitis

Moms of newborns have a ton on their plate. The last thing she needs is an infection, especially in her breasts. That’s why we are focusing on what breastfeeding moms should know about mastitis.

Woman suffering from mastitis.

What Is Mastitis?

Mastitis is an infection that develops in breast tissue. It normally occurs in breastfeeding women, but it can also affect women not breastfeeding and even men.

It may develop when the breast becomes engorged from a clogged milk duct or an area that is not draining giving bacteria a place to grow. The breast becomes inflamed, swollen, and red. It usually occurs in only one breast, but it can affect both.

It can come on suddenly without warning, feel extremely sore, and be accompanied by a lump.

The Signs of Mastitis

A breast with mastitis will feel sore and warm to the touch, sometimes even hot. It will look pink, red, or streaky. Nausea or vomiting may occur along with fever and symptoms of the flu, like chills and body aches. There can be a yellow discharge from the nipple like the colostrum after giving birth.

What To Do For Mastitis

  • First and foremost, keep breastfeeding your baby. Nursing frequently helps to provide comfort, reduce inflammation, and encourage the opening of the blocked area.
  • Rest is important for recovery.
  • Use wet or dry heat with a heating pad or hot water bottle.
  • Massage the area using circular motions.
  • If it hurts to nurse your baby on the infected breast, nurse on the other one.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Wear a supportive bra that does not compress the breast.
  • Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Mastitis can go away on its own, but contact Genesee Valley OB/GYN if you begin to have more pain, any changes to your breast, or a spike in fever. Your physician may prescribe an antibiotic to knock out the infection. It is important to take all the medication. It will not hurt your baby.

You may also benefit from a consultation with a lactation expert to ensure proper latching and breastfeeding technique to help prevent another case of mastitis. 

Contact Genesee Valley OB/GYN at (585) 641-0399 if you have concerns about your symptoms, or if symptoms become worse after taking antibiotics for 24 hours.

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