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.