What I Learned Wednesday: Mastitis

Thursday, July 26, 2012
Mastitis is a bit*h.

That is all.

But if you arrived to this post hoping to find some information regarding mastitis, I suppose I should offer some. This is taken directly from the Ask Dr. Sears website.
Treating mastitis is much like treating engorgement only more urgent. Try these suggestions in addition to those listed under engorgement.
  • Rest, rest, rest. Mastitis is an illness, so take a medical leave from all responsibilities other than breastfeeding. Take your baby to bed with you and nurse. Rest relieves stress and replenishes your immune system.
  • Alternate warm and cold compresses on your breasts. Cold compresses relieve pain; warmth increases circulation, which mobilizes infection-fighters in the inflamed area. Lean over a basin of warm water, stand in a warm shower, or soak in a warm bath. Warm water or a warm, wet towel is more effective than the dry heat of a heating pad. For cold compresses, use crushed ice in plastic bags or bags of frozen vegetables, covered with a thin dishtowel to protect your skin.
  • Gently massage the area of tenderness. This increases circulation, helps to loosen any plugged ducts in the area, and mobilizes local immune factors. Try doing this while soaking the breast in a warm shower or bath.
  • Breastfeed frequently on the affected side. If it hurts to nurse the baby, start the feeding on the breast that is not sore, and switch to the sore side after your milk lets down. Breastfeeding is usually more comfortable when the milk is flowing. It's important to empty the inflamed breast. As in other parts of the body, fluid that is trapped can get infected. Your baby can empty your breast more efficiently than a breast pump. However, if your baby is not nursing well, you may have to use a breast pump or hand expression to get the milk out.
  • Vary the baby's position at the breast, so that all the ducts are emptied.
  • Take analgesics for fever and pain. Acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen are safe to take while breastfeeding. Unrelieved pain not only decreases your ability to produce milk, but suppresses your body's ability to fight infection.
  • Drink lots of fluids, as you would if you had the flu. Fever and inflammation increase your need for fluids.
  • Boost your immune system with good nutrition.
  • Sleep without a bra. At other times, wear a looser fitting bra that does not put pressure on the affected area. Or if possible, go without a bra.
  • Don't quit nursing at this point. Weaning increases the risk of a breast infection turning into a breast abscess that requires surgical draining. Continuing to nurse your baby is the best treatment for engorgement, mastitis and breast infections.
  • If baby refuses to nurse on the affected breast, it may be because inflammation of the milk glands increases the sodium content of your milk, giving it a salty taste. Most babies either don't notice or don't mind, and go right on nursing. Some may object to the change and fuss or refuse to nurse from that side. Try starting the feeding on the unaffected side and finishing on the salty side. As the inflammation subsides, your milk will soon return to its usual taste.
Thankfully, I am past the worst of it and feeling much, much better. I tried to rest and nurse as much as possible and I think those two aspects were the greatest contributors to getting over the infection quickly.


  1. Mastitis?NOOOOOO! Oh I'm so sorry!

  2. Ugh, I know. Thank you! I'm feeling SO much better, but it was rough for a couple of days.


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