Mastitis (say: “mass-tie-tuss”) is an inflammation of the breast that is usually caused by an infection. It often happens while a woman is breastfeeding, especially during the first 6 weeks.
Women who have mastitis feel generally ill. Other symptoms include:
Mastitis usually affects one breast, not both breasts.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and examine the affected breast. He or she will check for swelling, tenderness and a painful, wedge-shaped area on the breast that is a tell-tale sign of mastitis.
Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. You should start to feel better a few days after starting the antibiotics. But make sure you take all the antibiotics your doctor prescribes to prevent antibiotic resistance.
Over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (one brand name: Advil) can help relieve pain. Warm showers can also help relieve the pain.
It is important to keep breastfeeding when you have mastitis. Your breast milk will not be bad for your baby, even if you have mastitis, although some infants may not like the taste. If you stop breastfeeding, germs can spread in the milk that is left in your breast, and your infection can get worse. If you cannot nurse your baby, you should pump your breasts to remove the milk.
Getting enough rest and drinking extra fluids can help you feel better faster. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms get worse.
Below are some basic breastfeeding techniques to lower your risk of developing mastitis.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff