All breastfeeding women should know the signs of mastitis, what to do if they develop this condition, and how to prevent it. Mastitis is a condition which causes a woman's breast tissue to become painful and inflamed.
Symptoms of breast infection, which may come on gradually, include:
1. Intense pain in one breast.
2. Red, hot, or swollen breast or a hard, tender, reddened area on the breast.
3. Flulike symptoms, including a fever of 101 degrees F.
Mastitis usually only affects one breast, and symptoms often develop quickly. If you notice any of these symptoms, see pus or blood in your milk, call your doctor. If you get a breast infection:
1. Apply either dry or wet heat directly to your breast and gently massage the area while feeding.
2. Start each feeding on the affected breast.
3. Vary your nursing positions.
4. Don't wear tight clothing.
6. If you're breastfeeding, continuing to feed your baby and making sure they are properly attached to your breast. Breastfeeding your baby when you have mastitis, even if you have an infection, won't harm your baby and can help improve your symptoms.
7. For non-breastfeeding women with mastitis and breastfeeding women with a suspected infection, a course of antibiotic tablets will usually be prescribed to bring the infection under control.
If you're breastfeeding, you can help reduce your risk of developing mastitis by taking steps to stop milk building up in your breasts, such as:
1. Let your baby finish their feeds – most babies release the breast when they've finished feeding; try not to take your baby off the breast unless they're finished.
2. Avoid pressure on your breasts from tight clothing, including bras.