Breastfeeding is cheap, efficient, and a solid nutritious choice for you and your baby with all kinds of positive side effects for mom! But sometimes there can be a little hiccup along the way. Mastitis affects 33% of breastfeeding women, know the symptoms so you can catch and treat it as quickly as possible.

The signs and symptoms of mastitis:

  • Fever of 101°F or greater
  • Flu-like aches and chills
  • Red, tender, hot, swollen, wedge-shaped area of the breast
  • Pain or burning while breastfeeding or all the time.
  • Breast swelling, tender or warm to the touch

mastitisWhy do mothers develop mastitis?

There have been limited studies of lactation mastitis, but generally researchers focus on two potential risk factors

  1. Poor breastfeeding technique – Get the latch right
    If you’re struggling with breastfeeding you’re probably fed up of people talking to you about latch! Improper latching of baby to mom’s nipple is at the root of many a new mother’s frustration. Poor technique can lead to poor drainage of a duct, insufficient emptying of the breast, milk stasis, and cracks or fissures of the nipple. These, it is hypothesized, provide an avenue for infection.
  2. Lowered immune system response
    Guess what, you’re probably sleep deprived, and maybe a little stressed out? You’re not alone. Those factors can reduce your immune system response to a duct infection.
  3. Delay in feeding, busy schedule, stress can also lead to an occurrence of mastitis

Whatever the cause of the mastitis you need to see a medical professional. Antibiotics can help address the infection. ( Antibiotics are usually prescribed for a 10-14 day course. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics even if you start to feel better). Also coordinate with a lactation consultant to address what led up to the infection.

What can I do to alleviate the symptoms?

  1. Continue to breastfeed on the affected side as much as you can. This can reduce the tenderness of your breast.
  2. Apply a warm compress
  3. Massage the affected part of the breast. It will help speed the healing process. Pump to help drain the breast after applying warm compresses. Rest, fluids and frequent breastfeeding will help you heal and resolve mastitis. try to reduce your stress or workload until you feel better.  Seek help from friends/family to allow you more time to rest.
  4. Wear a supportive bra. (Your bra should be well fitting, not overly tight causing creases to skin and may be best to avoid underwire bras.)
  5. Make sure your baby latches on well. (Check with the lactation consultants)
  6. Change positions every time you breastfeed.

Never fear, help is here

  • Nursing assistance during your TMC for Women hospital stay, offered seven days a week

TMC offers outpatient breastfeeding support services, whether you deliver at TMC for Women or not.

  • Free weekly breastfeeding support group for new moms. Hosted weekly by a certified lactation consultant. Classes are held every Monday from 10-11:30 a.m. in the Canyon Room.
  • Outpatient consultations with an IBCLC-certified nurse (by appointment only. Call 324-5730. BCBS covered)

For more information on any of these services, please call 324-5730

Arizona Department of Health Services Breastfeeding 24/7 Hotline: 1-800-833-4642  Breastfeeding and Motherhood resource line for any mother or provider in Arizona