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What is mastitis?

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What is mastitis?


Breastfeeding is a bit of a minefield, all of a sudden you find youself faced with things you've never even hear of before.  Mastitis might well be one of them.  It's an inflammation of the breast, usually caused by a build up of milk in the breast leading to an infection. It often happens while a woman is breastfeeding, especially during the first 6-12 weeks.


- A swollen area on your breast that may feel hot and painful to touch – the area may become red but this can be harder to see if you have darker skin. It usually only affects one breastand symptoms can begin rapidly.

- A wedge-shaped breast lump or a hard area on your breast

- A burning pain in your breast that might be constant or only when you breastfeed

nipple discharge, which may be white or contain streaks of blood

-  You may also get flu-like symptoms, such as chills, nausea, aches, a high temperature, tiredness or even vomiting.


What can you do?

- Soak a cloth in warm water and place it on your breast to help relieve the pain – a warm shower or bath may also help.

- Rest and drink lots of fluids.

- Continue to breastfeed.

- Start feeds with the sore breast first.

- Express milk from your breast in between feeds.

- Make sure your breast is completely drained after a feed. You may need to check your baby's latch as a poor latch may mean your baby struggles to do this.

- Massage your breast to help clear any blockages – stroke from the lumpy or sore area towards your nipple to help the milk flow.

- Apply heat prior to feedings to promote breast drainage.

- Wear comfortable clothing and a wireless bra.

- See a GP if you do not feel better within 24 hours despite continuing to breastfeed, they will usually be able to prescribe you antibiotics. 


(Sources, LaLeche League, NHS, Medela)

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