Mastitis While Breast-Feeding - Treatment Overview
not go away without treatment. If you have
mastitis symptoms, you may need to call your doctor
today. Prompt treatment helps keep infection from rapidly getting worse and
usually improves symptoms after about 2 days.
mastitis usually includes:
antibiotics to destroy the bacteria causing the
- Regularly emptying the breast well by breast-feeding or
pumping breast milk. Adequate emptying of the affected breast helps prevent
more bacteria from collecting in the breast and may shorten the duration of the
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
- Your baby may seem
reluctant to nurse on your painful breast. This is not because your milk tastes
strange, but more likely because your breast feels different and it is harder
for your baby to nurse. Try expressing a little milk first. This will soften
the breast and make it easier for your baby to latch on.
Breast abscess treatment
If you have mastitis
because of a blocked duct and you delay treatment, your breast infection may
develop into an
abscess. Treatment for an abscess includes:
- Draining the abscess. Abscess healing
can take 5 to 7 days.
antibiotic treatment to destroy the bacteria causing
the infection. (Antibiotics are given
intravenously only in rare cases of severe
- Emptying the breast well and regularly by breast-feeding or
pumping, which is essential to keeping a good milk supply.
Most women can continue breast-feeding on the affected
breast while an abscess heals. With your doctor's approval, you can cover the
abscess area with a light gauze dressing while breast-feeding.
you are advised to stop breast-feeding from the affected breast while an
abscess heals, you can continue breast-feeding from the healthy breast. Be sure
to pump or express milk from the infected breast regularly.
more information on pumping or expressing breast milk, see the topic