Prevention & treatment for mastitis


Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue, often caused by a blocked milk duct. As a result, some of the milk can get banked up behind the blockage and be forced into the nearby breast tissue, causing inflammation to the area. Infection may or may not be present. 

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms of mastitis can make you feel as if you are getting the flu. You may begin to get shivers and aches. Some mothers who do not have any early signs of a blocked duct get mastitis ‘out of the blue’. The breast will be sore like it is with a blocked duct, only worse. It is usually red and swollen, hot and painful. The skin may be shiny and there may be red streaks. You will feel ill. It is common for the ill-feeling to come on very quickly.

If you suspect that you have Mastitis, it is important to see your doctor or health care provider.

What can you do? 

  • Rest as much as you can
  • Keep the sore breast as empty as possible by feeding your baby often
  • Apply warmth to the sore breast for up to a few minutes before a feed
  • Feed from the sore breast first, when your baby’s sucking is stronger
  • Massage the breast gently while your baby feeds
  • Change feeding positions to help shift the blockage
  • Talk to a breastfeeding counsellor for ideas on other feeding positions
  • Hand express if needed, before, after and between feeds
  • Cold packs after a feed may help relieve pain and reduce swelling

Early treatment will mean you get better faster, you will feel less ill and you will be at less risk of a breast abscess.


  • Ensure your baby is attaching and feeding well
  • Breastfeed your baby as often as your baby wants to feed
  • Avoid missing or putting off feeds
  • If a breast becomes uncomfortably full, wake your baby for a feed
  • If your baby is not interested in feeding, you may like to express a small amount for comfort
  • Avoid putting pressure on your breasts eg with clothing or with your fingers while feeding
  • Rest as much as you can
  • Alternate from which breast you begin each feed. This can help ensure at least one breast gets drained well at every second feed
  • Avoid giving your baby any other fluids except your breastmilk, unless medically advised to.

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