Mastitis can be a painful condition that can cause your breasts to become swollen, painful and inflamed.
Symptoms of mastitis include:
- a breast that feels hot and tender
- a red patch of skin that’s painful to touch
- a swollen breast that does not reduce following a good feed
- a general feeling of illness, as if you have flu
- feeling achy, tired and tearful
- a high temperature
If you are breastfeeding and think you may have mastitis, it’s important to continue to breastfeed your baby to help keep your milk passing through the milk ducts. If that’s not possible, express regularly.
There’s no need to increase expressing or express after each feed to ‘empty the breast’. Doing so can lead to an oversupply which could make the mastitis worse. Hand expressing a small amount of milk until comfortable is a better option if your breasts are uncomfortably full.
Easing mastitis symptoms
- continue to responsively breastfeed your baby when they want, and for as long as they want
- start your breastfeed with the affected breast first
- make sure your baby is attached to your breast well
- ask your midwife or a peer supporter to check your latch and make sure your baby is positioned properly
- if the affected breast still feels full after a feed, or your baby cannot feed for some reason, try expressing your milk by hand
- a warm compress applied to the breast, a warm shower or bath may also help to improve milk flow
- breast pain may be soothed using a cold compress (for example a cloth soaked in cold water or a cabbage leave)
- try to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce any pain or high temperature
If you start to feel unwell, achy, flu like symptoms or you develop a fever please contact your GP straight away as you may require antibiotics.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, it’s important to carry on breastfeeding while you complete the course. If you have questions about the medication prescribed to you visit The Breastfeeding Network.