Mastitis is a swelling of the breast. It can happen when the breast is too full of milk and milk is not removed from the breast regularly by breastfeeding or pumping. Mastitis also can be from an infection in the breast.

Early symptoms of mastitis could be feeling a red, tender area in the breast that is not better by breastfeeding or pumping. Mothers may feel tired. They may notice flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and/or body aches.

Treatment

Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of mastitis!

To help mastitis get better:

  • Remove milk from the breast regularly by breastfeeding and/or pumping
  • Pump both breasts at the same time if direct breastfeeding isn’t possible
  • Use warm, moist compresses before feeding or pumping
  • Cold compresses may be used to help with discomfort
  • Gently massage the breast when feeding or pumping to help remove milk from the breast
  • Rest as much as possible, increase fluids, and use medication as recommended by your doctor

It is safe to feed breast milk to the baby during mastitis.

Prevention

To prevent mastitis:

  • Breastfeed often (at least eight to 12 times per day)
  • Latch the baby properly on the breast to prevent skin breakdown of the nipple
  • Pump or express milk if a feeding is missed or if breasts feel too full
  • Massage any firm areas in the breast while feeding the baby or pumping
  • Avoid tight fitting bras or bras with support underwire
  • Wean slowly from making milk