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Mastitis While Breast-Feeding - Topic Overview

Your doctor can tell whether you have mastitis by talking with you about your symptoms and examining you. Testing is usually not needed.

Antibiotics can usually cure mastitis. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of pills. The antibiotics will not harm the baby. If treatment doesn't work at first, your doctor may send a sample of your breast milk to a lab to help identify the type of bacteria causing the infection.

You can help yourself feel better by getting more rest, drinking more fluids, and using warm or cold packs on your painful breast.

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.

You can safely take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain or a fever. You can take ibuprofen (such as Advil) along with acetaminophen to reduce inflammation. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

Breast-feeding from your affected breast is safe for your baby. 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. If your nipples are too cracked and painful to breast-feed from that breast, hand express or use a breast pump to empty the breast of milk. Try this each time that you cannot breast-feed.

This is a good time to consider getting help from a lactation consultant. This person—usually a nurse—specializes in helping women with breast-feeding. You can breast-feed more effectively with less pain and help prevent future mastitis if you remember to change positions and make sure that your baby is latching on properly.

Be sure to get treatment for mastitis. Delaying treatment can lead to a breast abscess, which can be harder to treat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about mastitis:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 03, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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