Mastitis is when your breast gets inflamed because of nipple damage or changes in your milk ducts. Mastitis is quite common.

What are some symptoms of mastitis?

You might have a red, sore area on your breast. Sometimes it feels like getting the flu. You might feel hot and cold with a fever, and have general body aches.

What to do if you have mastitis

Your breastmilk is safe for your baby even if you have mastitis. You can keep breastfeeding or expressing from both breasts. This will help your milk supply.

You can also try:

  • a cool pack wrapped in a cloth and placed on your breast after feeding or expressing to help reduce inflammation
  • very gently stroking the breast with mastitis to help improve milk flow 
  • a warm cloth on the affected area might help your milk flow, if your milk is not flowing when feeding or expressing
  • drinking enough water so you are not thirsty 
  • resting when you can
  • asking your partner, family or friends for help with household tasks.

For pain relief

  • A cool pack can be good for pain relief.
  • You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with pain. It is safe to take these while breastfeeding.

When to see a doctor

If you feel unwell or your breast is red, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. When you make the appointment, tell them you think you have mastitis.

If your doctor gives you antibiotics, follow the instructions. It is safe to breastfeed when you take these antibiotics.

What can cause mastitis?

We don’t always know the cause of mastitis. Some reasons you get mastitis could be: 

  • your baby finds breastfeeding hard
  • nipple damage
  • narrowed, inflamed milk ducts 
  • long gaps between feeds, causing very full breasts
  • stopping breastfeeding suddenly
  • tight or underwire bras that put pressure on your breasts.

How can you help prevent mastitis?

Feeding to prevent mastitis

  • You should breastfeed frequently. Young babies often need to feed 8–12 times in 24 hours, or more.
  • Don’t miss or delay feeds.
  • Offer both breasts for each feed. If your baby doesn’t take the second breast, offer it first next time.
  • Wake your baby for a feed if your breasts start to feel too full.
  • Ask your nurse, midwife or breastfeeding counsellor to check your baby is attaching and feeding well. 
  • Avoid giving your baby formula or other fluids unless advised by your nurse, midwife or doctor.

Expressing to prevent mastitis

  • If your breasts still feel full after a feed, express just enough milk for comfort.
  • If your baby doesn’t want to feed yet, express just enough milk for comfort.
  • If you’re using a breast pump, check the breast shield size is not causing any problems for your nipple or breast.
  • Ask your nurse, midwife or breastfeeding counsellor if you think your breast pump is causing problems.


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