Mastitis is caused by a number of reasons. Understanding these reasons may help you in preventing mastitis.

  • stress
  • fatigue
  • plugged duct
  • breast engorgement
  • cracked nipple
  • weaning abruptly
  • hyperlactation
  • tight bra
  • constrictive underwire

Symptoms of Mastitis
A sudden onset of fever or flu-like symptoms usually precede the feelings of breast tenderness. You’ll notice that your breast will be red, swollen, hard and hot. It is usually the left breast that is affected, and the inflammation tends to occur in the upper outer corner.

So how do you treat your mastitis? Whatever you do, don't stop breastfeeding! Breastfeeding will help your infection get better faster. First, you'll want to get the engorgement down ASAP by expressing milk. Get your inflamed breast ready for milk expression by using a saline soak or a warm, wet compress applied to the breast area. To give yourself a saline soak, put 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of water in a large basin. Keep the water warm and lower your breast into the basin. After the soak or compress, gently massage your breast. Now you're ready to express your milk.

Alternately, you can feed from the unaffected breast to help the let-down start. Once you have let-down, breastfeed your baby.

Lastly, talk to you health care provider. He may prescribe antibiotics for a two-week period.

As with any flu-like symptoms, be sure to get PLENTY of bed rest! Also keep those fluids going through your body. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

To comfort your pain, you can apply ice packs between each breastfeeding. A bag of peas is a good remedy as it's cold enough and will take the form of your breast.

How Will Mastitis Affect my Baby?
Breast milk from an inflamed breast is perfectly safe for the baby, as the breast milk contains antibodies that protect your baby from diseases and infections.

Your infant may, however, get fussy and refuse to drink milk from the inflamed breast. This is because your usually sweet breast milk now has a salty taste due to your infection. If the breast is entirely refused by your baby, be sure to express it manually or with a breast pump.

Breast Abscess
It is very important to treat mastitis right away. Otherwise, mastitis may become a breast abscess. In extreme cases, untended mastitis can lead to hospitalization to drain the breast via incision. An abscess is a pus-filled boil under the skin. The abscess will remain even after treatment of mastitis, signaling the need for drainage. It is therefore important to consult your doctor on mastitis or plugged ducts, so that you can prevent a more serious condition.

Breastfeeding can be a challenging and emotional task. Chat with others about the topic.