Mastitis While Breast-Feeding - Home Treatment
From the time you begin breast-feeding
until your baby is weaned, take measures to
prevent mastitis. For example, learn about
different breast-feeding techniques so that you will
know how to completely empty your breasts. Not emptying your breasts completely
when nursing or going too long between feedings may lead to mastitis. View a slideshow on latching to learn how to get your baby to latch on.
If you have
symptoms of mastitis, you may need to call your doctor
right away. Delaying treatment can lead to an
abscess forming in the affected breast. Severe
infection can require
intravenous antibiotics in the hospital.
Breast-feeding with mastitis
Along with oral
antibiotic treatment, continuing to nurse your baby and being careful to empty
your breasts completely will help shorten the duration of the infection.
You can safely continue breast-feeding your baby or pumping
breast milk to feed your baby during illness and treatment. Your baby is the most efficient pump you have for emptying
your breasts. Your breast milk is safe for your baby to drink, because any
bacteria in your milk will be destroyed by the baby's digestive juices.
- Before breast-feeding your baby, place a
warm, wet washcloth over the affected breast for about 15 minutes. Try this at
least 3 times a day. This increases milk flow in the breast. Massaging the
affected breast may also increase milk flow.
- If possible, continue breast-feeding on both sides. Ideally,
start on the affected side—it's critical that you empty this breast thoroughly.
If starting with the affected breast is too painful, try feeding your baby with your healthy breast first. Then, after your milk is flowing, breast-feed from the affected
breast until it feels soft. Switch back to the healthy breast and breast-feed
until your baby has finished.
- Pump or express milk from the
affected breast if pain prevents you from breast-feeding. Nipple pain can be
caused by the baby latching on to sore nipples. For more information on pumping
or expressing breast milk, see the topic
- A lanolin-based cream,
such as Lansinoh, may help heal sore or cracked nipples.
- If you
use nursing pads, replace them frequently so they are dry and clean.
Self-care measures for mastitis
In addition to
taking your prescribed antibiotics and continuing to breast-feed or pump breast
milk, there are other steps you can take to make yourself feel better until the
mastitis goes away.
acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to relieve your pain, fever,
or discomfort. You can take
ibuprofen (such as Advil) along with acetaminophen to
reduce inflammation if needed.
- Rest as much as
- Apply an ice pack or a warm compress to the affected
breast to help reduce your pain. If you use an ice pack, place the ice outside
of your bra or clothing. Do not put the ice directly on your bare
- Drink extra fluids.
- If your breasts are very full
(engorged), pump or express a small amount of breast
milk before breast-feeding. This will make your breasts less full and may make
it easier for your baby to latch on to your breast.
- If pus is
draining from your infected breast, wash the nipple gently and let it air dry
before putting your bra back on. A disposable breast pad placed in the bra cup
may absorb the drainage.
Most women can successfully continue breast-feeding
during a breast infection. If mastitis makes it difficult for you to continue
breast-feeding while the infection is being treated, remember that emptying
your breasts regularly is essential. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or a
lactation consultant for further help and