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Mastitis 101

By The Welcome Baby Care Doulas

Just a little FYI, whether you need a crash course or a refresher.

Recovery from mastitis is most successful when symptoms are recognized early on.


-painful, irritated, hot, tender breast (or area of the breast)

-breast swelling and engorgement

-immediate flu like symptoms (“feel as though hit by a truck”)

-chills and fever




-avoid engorgement

-nurse frequently

-do not limit length of breastfeeding sessions

-if your breasts are full, nurse or express milk

-avoid tight-fitting bras

-avoid sleeping on stomach or compressing breast when you sleep on your side

-get plenty of rest, water, and good food



-rest, rest, and more rest

-frequent nursing (stopping makes matters worse!)

-nursing at different angles (baby on back on blanket while mom moves “around the clock” on hands and knees, making sure that each specific section of the breast is emptied)

-warm and cold compresses

-gentle massage

-if the above options don’t inspire significant, immediate progress toward recovery:  antibiotics


*Bottom Line:  If you start to feel icky, try the treatment recommendations above, with medical intervention and antibiotics as a last resort when symptoms have quickly worsened rather than improved.  

Antibiotics are effective when necessary, but can lead to yeast infection (or thrush) in both mom and baby.  Thrush can lead to increased pain, the pain can lead to a change in latch, and an improper latch can lead to a plugged duct.  A plugged duct can lead to mastitis.   And we’re back at square one.  

Pay attention to those early warning signs and always consider mastitis or pre-mastitis with the sudden onslaught of flu-like symptoms in a breastfeeding mother.




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