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Understanding Mastitis

Don’t let mastitis affecting your enjoyment as a mother.

3 mins to read May 15, 2020

As a new mom who is nursing, you are already doing the best for your little one. For some moms, the process will come naturally and continue without any issues. Yet, for others, it may present challenges. And, like any new skill, lactation process can take practice and perseverance.

Mastitis concerns 

What is Mastitis? Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection. The inflammation results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. You might also have fever and chills.
Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis). But mastitis can also occur in women who aren't breast-feeding and in men.
Another common cause of mastitis is infection in the breast ducts, due to having too much harmful bacteria such as Staphylococci.

Preventing mastitis

You can avoid mastitis by talking to a lactation consultant who give you tips and provide invaluable advice for proper lactation techniques.

These may be some of the tips you will get:
•    Fully drain the milk from your breasts when breast-feeding.
•    Allow your baby to completely empty one breast before switching to the other breast.
•    Change your position when you breast-feed from one feeding to the next.
•    Make sure you position your little one’s mouth correctly.
•    Stop smoking.

Breastfeeding has many benefits for you and your child. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. Don’t let mastitis be a reason for you to stop breastfeeding earlier than you plan. 

Amir LH, Trupin S, Kvist LJ. Diagnosis and treatment of mastitis in breastfeeding women. J Hum Lact 2014; 30(1):10-3.  

Amir LH, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #4: Mastitis, revised March 2014. Breastfeed Med 2014; 9(5): doi: 10.1089/bfm.2014.9984.  

Angelopoulou A, Field D, Ryan CA et al. The microbiology and treatment of human mastitis. Med Microbiol Immunol 2018, 207(2):83-94.   

Arroyo R, Martin V, Maldonado A et al. Treatment of infectious mastitis during lactation: Antibiotics versus oral administration of Lactobacilli isolated from breast milk. Clin Infect Dis 2010; 50(12):15518.  

Core curriculum for lactation consultant practice: International Lactation Consultant Association, Mannel, Martens, Walker, Eds, 3rd ed; 2013.  

Cullinane M. Amir LH, Donath SM et al. Determinants of mastitis in women in the CASTLE study: a cohort study. BMC Fam Pract 2015; 16:181. doi: 10.1186/s12875-015-0396-5.

Infant Feeding Survey, UK, 2012;  Health and Social Care Information Center, HNS, IFF Research, 2012. Infant feeding survey 2010. (accessed May 23, 2018).

Jimenez E, de Andres J, Manrique M et al. Metagenomic analysis of milk of healthy and mastitissuffering women. J Hum Lact 2015, 31(3):406-15.

Kvist L. Re-examination of old truths: replication of a study to measure the incidence of lactational mastitis in breastfeeding women. Int Breastfeed J 2013, 8(1):2. doi:1186/1746-4358-8-2.

Mayo Clinic… (Accessed May 23, 2018).

Odom EC, Li R, Scanlon KS, et al. Reasons for earlier than desired cessation of breastfeeding. Pediatrics 2013; 131(3):e726-32.

World Health Organization. Mastitis causes and management. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2000.

Last revised: February 2018


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