Boutique Bummis

The art of being parents…naturally!

Mastitis: Go Away and Don’t Come Back! — By Jennifer Welch

on May 31, 2011

This article a the first of a series by our Guest Blogger Jennifer Welch, Lactation Consultant. Stay in tune over the next few weeks to read her great insights on breastfeeding and lactation!

So, you’re starting to feel the telltale signs of mastitis:  you’ve developed a painful lump in your breast and you feel a bit of a fever coming on.  You’re not sure yet whether it is just inflammation or a full-blown infection.  Not to worry, you will soon find out!  If you have an infection, there will be no doubt.  Your fever will spike up high and you will feel very, very sick, much like when you have the flu.  The good news is that there is a lot you can do at home to make yourself well again.


Now what?  How do you make it go away?

Strategies for mastitis are much the same, regardless if it is infectious or simply inflammatory:

  • Most importantly, keep the milk moving.  Nurse often, starting with the affected side.
  • Massage the sore spot and apply brief heat before your nurse (5 minutes max!).
  • Reduce the inflammation by applying cold packs after you nurse.  Ibuprophen is also great for reducing inflammation and is compatible with breastfeeding.
  • Rest, eat well, hydrate. Snuggle in with your baby in for a nursing staycation and be sure to eat nutritious foods and drink lots of water.
  • Consider seeing a IBCLC and your doctor.  Inflammatory mastitis should clear in 3 days or less but if it lasts longer or you are really sick with a high fever, there is a good chance you have an infection and will require antibiotics.  An IBCLC can increase your odds of clearing it quickly.

How can I make sure it doesn’t come back?

Mastitis is caused when milk is not draining well.  If there also happens to be bacteria present, then you’ve got the makings of an infection.  A bit of sleuthing may be required to figure out why the milk is not moving well.  Be sure to consider the usual suspects:

  • Poor latch or positioning
  • Oversupply
  • Infrequent or irregular nursing/pumping
  • Pump problems (your shields are the wrong size for you or they were poorly positioned)
  • Something pressing into your breast (ill-fitting bra or baby carrier, heavy bag/purse strap)

Still stumped?  Back again?  Since they are trained to consider all aspects of breastfeeding, an IBCLC can help pin-point the cause.

For more information on mastitis check out this link:

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!

Jennifer Welch, IBCLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant



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