Mastitis means inflammation of the breast and can be mild to severe. Mastitis starts because of poor milk drainage – if your baby is not well attached to your breast it may be hard for your baby to take milk effectively and some parts of your breast may not be drained during a feed.

Signs of mastitis:

  • The first sign is a red, swollen, usually painful area on the breast, often the outer, upper area, which may be painful to touch
  • Flu-like symptoms – aching, increased temperature, shivering, feeling tearful and tired. These symptoms can sometimes start very suddenly and get worse very quickly.

Causes of mastitis:

  • Difficulty with attaching your baby to the breast – which can lead to ineffective transfer of milk
  • Restricting length or frequency of breastfeeding
  • Engorgement
  • A blocked duct
  • Offering baby Supplements
  • e.g. top-ups of formula milk

  • Pressure from tight-fitting clothing, particularly your bra, or your finger pressing onto the breast during feeds

Breastfeeding can and should continue, as stopping feeding suddenly can cause mastitis to worsen.

Self help Treatment for mastitis:

  • Make sure you have a good latch – please see steps to improve the breastfeeding latch. If in doubt, contact a lactation consultant for help.
  • Keep on breastfeeding – this is the quickest way to get better
  • Apply warmth to the affected area for 10 minutes before feeding
  • Feed from the sore side first to drain it as thoroughly as possible
  • Drain the affected breast at least every couple of hours day and night – either by feeding or expressing
  • Vary feeding positions. At least once during each feed, position the baby so his nose or chin points towards the sore area
  • Take pain relief – ibuprofen, paracetamol.

Rest, drink plenty, feed often and sleep.
Begin self help treatment right away, and contact a lactation consultant.

Contact your GP if you start to feel worse, or you run a fever, or you have obvious signs of bacterial infection such as visible pus.