Identifying and Overcoming Mastitis...
By Guest Author - Leanne Wallace, Lactation Consultant Wollongong Private Hospital
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby, but natural doesn’t always mean easy! The early weeks of breastfeeding can be filled with challenges, but knowing what is normal (and not so normal) can help you establish feeding faster and move on to enjoy this unique relationship with your baby.
What is Mastitis?
Mastitis affects about 10% - 20% of new mothers during the early weeks of breastfeeding. It is usually the result of an unresolved blocked milk duct causing the breast tissue to become inflamed. Factors that contribute to mastitis include
- Grazes and cracks to nipples
- An oversupply of milk as your milk supply is adjusting to baby’s needs
- Sudden changes in feeding pattern
- Being overtired, skipping meals or not caring for yourself
Symptoms of Mastitis
Early signs of mastitis include flu symptoms such as mid to high temperatures and feeling unwell. This may develop slowly or come on very quickly. A tender or red hot painful area may be noticed on the breast.
- With immediate and appropriate management, mastitis can often be resolved quickly. This is not a time to wean!
- Continuing breastfeeding will help to empty the breast and resolve the problem.
- Wake your baby for a feed if necessary or hand express under the shower.
- Applying a warm pack prior to feeding may help with milk flow and assist with relieving the blockage.
- After breastfeeding, apply ice to the breast to relieve pain.
- It is important you take care of yourself with rest, increase your fluids and eat healthy food. If your temperature becomes significantly elevated
and you feel unwell, see your GP or emergency department. You will be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection.
- Ensuring your breasts are well drained following a feed is key to preventing mastitis.
- If you locate a tender spot, lump or firm area which has not been drained by the baby, massage gently towards the nipple to clear the blocked area.
- Prompt treatment will prevent this temporary blockage from developing into a problem.
- Correct attachment will also prevent your nipples from damage.
- When the baby comes off the breast, the shape of the nipple should look healthy and not distorted. If your nipples appear to be worsening, please seek
professional help as soon as possible.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding or caring for your baby, Leanne Wallace will be running a free information session at Wollongong Private Hospital’s Maternity Open Day on Sunday 25th June at 10am. Find out more about the open day and book your seat at an information session at