#31 What is Mastitis?

Breastfeeding is a vital part of raising a child. Doing so is a choice you make for yourself and your baby. Personally, I advocate breastfeeding for the many benefits for both mother and child. As I previously shared on a previous blog about breastfeeding, breast milk provides the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs to grow up in good health. Likewise, breastfeeding may help prevent your postpartum depression and will give you a way to bond with your baby. However, there is always the question of what to do about breastfeeding if you develop mastitis.

What Is Mastitis?

Mastisis is a breast infection that may occur during the time you are breastfeeding your baby. It happens when bacteria enter your milk ducts and infect the tissues in your breast. This infection can cause inflammation, breast pain, redness, and even fever or chills. Mastitis often occurs only in one breast but there are rare cases when the infection affects both breasts.

Mastitis can be caused by sore or cracked nipples, improper latching technique, or wearing tight or ill-fitting bras that restrict milk flow. The infection causes the area around the nipple to be red, hot, hard and sore.

Breastfeeding with Mastitis

Despite having mastitis, it is still safe for you to continue nursing your baby. It may be uncomfortable, but breastfeeding will help unclog your milk ducts and ensure that bacteria won’t be allowed to grow. There is no risk of passing the infection to your child through your breast milk.

What is the Treatment for Mastitis?

Call your doctor when you have signs of mastitis. Your doctor can do an exam and give you an antibiotic to take care of the infection. The antibiotic your physician gives you will most likely be a form of penicillin and it should be safe to continue breastfeeding.

You can do some home remedies to reduce the pain you may be experiencing. Often, I recommend breastfeeding mothers to apply warm compress to the affected breast. I would also suggest breastfeeding every two hours or so to unclog your milk ducts and to keep your milk flowing. If your baby isn’t up for feeding, you can use a breast pump to help you with this.

If you are looking for a quick remedy, you can take OTC (over-the-counter) nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug. Of course, it would still be best to check in with your doctor to make sure what you choose to take  is safe for you and your baby.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you think that you have Mastitis, it is best to observe yourself, see your doctor, and ask for the best steps you can take to address the pain and soreness you may be feeling. Breast changes of any kind are always a cause for concern, so it is best to call your healthcare provider when you notice any abnormalities.

For more information about breastfeeding and mastitis, please watch my podcast with Neil Haley.