Breast pain during pregnancy not only is physically bothersome but can be
This can lead to stopping breastfeeding earlier than you desire.
Let’s talk about one of the causes of breast pain,
What is mastitis?
Mastitis is the medical term for an infection of the breast
tissue. This infection of the breast can occur at any time and
can affect men and women.
However, it is most frequent during the time of breastfeeding occurring in
about 20 percent of breastfeeding women.
Although it can occur at any time you are lactating, it is most common in
the first 2-3 weeks of breastfeeding. Around 75 percent
of mastitis occurs before 3 months postpartum.
Mastitis can lead to stopping breastfeeding sooner.
A study showed that moms with mastitis reported a higher
psychological stress level than moms without breast problems. The
majority of women with breast problems and increased stress gave
up breastfeeding sooner. They also more commonly reported that
their milk quantity was insufficient.
Some research shows a relationship between stress and milk
slowdown or stoppage.
Stress affects the release of oxytocin and prolactin which are needed for
milk production and letdown.
True! If you have mastitis, you may have
Other symptoms you may have are:
Breast lump, usually tender and warm to touch
Pain or a burning sensation while breastfeeding or all the time
Skin redness in a wedge-shaped pattern
What causes mastitis?
A blocked milk duct. If your breast
is not completely emptied at feedings a duct can become clogged. This
clogged duct causes back up of milk and leads to breast infection.
Bacteria entering your breast.
Bacteria from your skin or baby’s mouth can enter the ducts through cracked
nipples or through milk duct opening and cause mastitis.
So what should you do if you think you may have
You should contact your healthcare provider as mastitis
is most commonly treated with antibiotics. A lactation
counselor is also helpful to guide you in timing and approach to
breastfeeding during your time of treatment and also to prevent recurrent
False! Keep breastfeeding! Remember it is important to
drain the breast completely! If breastfeeding is too painful then pump.
Risk factors for mastitis include:
Already had mastitis while breast-feeding
Nipples that are sore or cracked
Anything restricting milk flow (tightfitting bra or putting
pressure on your breast with a seat belt or strap of a heavy bag)
Improper nursing technique
Being overly tired or stressed
You may feel very sick from mastitis. Usually, you will feel better
48 hours after you start antibiotics.
In the meantime here are some tips to help:
Drink plenty of fluids
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (i.e. Ibuprofen) for pain
Empty breast regularly (breastfeed or pump)
Apply moist, warm heat to affected area and massage (depending on
You need to get the proper treatment for mastitis. If
not adequately treated you can develop a breast abscess (a collection of
pus). An abscess generally requires surgery to drain it.
Always speak to your healthcare provider if you think you may have
False! Pumping too much can lead to oversupply which is
a risk factor for development of mastitis.
Here are some ways you can decrease your risk of
Avoid pumping too much.
Drain the milk fully from your breasts. Drain one breast completely
before switching to the other. Make sure all areas of the breast
have drained well and massage the area that feels like it is still
Vary your nursing position each feeding (ensures all areas of
breast will drain well)
Ensure proper latch.
Stop smoking if you smoke.
Lecithin supplement daily may avoid repeat clogged ducts and
Don’t let this very treatable issue keep you from achieving your
breastfeeding goals. Don’t give up!
Be proactive to prevent mastitis. The key to this is support and
guidance from a lactation counselor! If you suspect you have
mastitis get treatment and keep on breastfeeding.
You got this, momma!
Reach out to schedule a 1-to-1 virtual video session with our licensed
lactation counselors from the comfort of your home! Not sure if you need to
see your healthcare provider- text us! As always, MaternalWell text support
is available for general questions.