Breast Infection (Mastitis)

A breast infection or mastitis is an inflamed area of the breast that has become red, hot, and tender to the touch. It produces flu-like symptoms in the mother and usually does not enter the milk so it is recognized as safe to continue nursing your baby through an episode of mastitis.

Causes of Breast Infection

The most common conditions that appear before mastitis are fatigue and stress.

The bacteria that cause mastitis often come from the baby or your home and you produce antibodies in your milk to fight the infection.

An unresolved blocked milk duct.

If you discover a lump, always treat a plugged milk duct immediately to prevent an infection.

Milk stasis caused by overfull breasts, engorgement, and irregular nursing patterns.

Infection that entered through a cracked nipple. To avoid cracks, make sure your baby is latched-on correctly at each feed.

Infection contracted from your baby or another family member.

In cases of recurring breast infections, there are usually other factors involved such as anemia, treatment with the wrong anti-biotic, too short of anti-biotic treatment, or continuing practices that lead to the first infection like not feeding the baby frequently enough or sufficiently moving your milk out.

Treatment for Breast Infection

As the common reason for getting the infection in the first place is stress and fatigue, the first step in treating the infection is bed-rest for several days. To prevent future infections, try to take daytime naps or have rest periods during the day. Try to nurse your baby lying down.

Wear a comfortable and well fitted nursing bra.

Move and remove your milk by feeding your baby frequently to avoid milk stasis. Position your baby with his chin pointed towards the affected area. Nurse as long as the baby desires. If your breast still feels full after the baby has finished, hand express the milk for relief.

Remember that your baby is the best breast pump.

If you are frequently separated from your baby, you may choose to use a breast pump to minimize fullness.

How to pump breast milk ~ breast infection.

Use warm and moist compresses or homemade heat packs and apply to the affected areas before feeds.

Apply cabbage leaves in between feeds.

It is safe and recommended to take an anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve the pain.

If the inflammation has not improved and you are running a temperature for more than 24 hours you should contact your doctor for medical treatment. Begin anti-biotic treatment as soon as prescribed to reduce the severity and to protect your milk supply. Always follow through the entire course of therapy even if you start to feel better.