Elena Stepanova/Fotolia

11 Things To Know About Mastitis, Every Breastfeeding Mom's Nightmare

By
Share
Ad failed to load

I don't think I got too worked up during my pregnancy about impending motherhood, but there was one thing that really sent me into a panic — breastfeeding. I was convinced I was going to have issues with it, that my baby wasn't going to take to it, and that it was going to be the hardest thing in the world. When I started researching things to know about mastitis? Oh man, I really worked myself up. Turns out, breastfeeding wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be, but I was lucky to avoid mastitis during my time as a breastfeeding mom.

If you're a breastfeeding mom or a mom-to-be doing her research, you've probably heard of mastitis and you're probably as terrified of it as I was. According to La Leche League International, mastitis is a breast infection and it sounds horrific. Usually affecting only one breast, mastitis can cause swelling, redness, and pain, as well as making your breast feel warm to the touch. In short? It really, really sucks.

KellyMom notes that mastitis can be caused by several situations, such as obstruction, infection, or allergies. It can come on abruptly, weakening your immunity and making you feel super fatigued. Just what every mom needs, right? The good news is, mastitis is preventable and treatable. Knowing that and these 11 things can help ease your fears about mastitis. Knowledge is power! (And so is a warm compress and frequent nursing, just FYI.)

Ad failed to load

1It's Most Common In The First 6 to 12 Weeks

GIPHY

According to the Mayo Clinic, mastitis is most common in the first six to 12 weeks of your child's life, but it can happen at any point during breastfeeding. During those early weeks, your little one is still getting on a schedule and your supply is constantly up and down to accommodate your baby, so it makes sense that you're at a risk for infection.

2It Can Feel Like The Flu

GIPHY

Oh, this is a real fun thing to know. Apparently mastitis can feel an awful lot like the flu,according to Mayo Clinic. You'll have symptoms similar to those you have when you have a clogged milk duct, but the pain, heat, and swelling is much more intense. Mastitis also typically comes with a fever of 101.3 degrees F or higher, chills, aching, fatigue, and overall flu-like weakness.

3Cracked Nipples Increase Your Risk

GIPHY

Although mastitis can be the name for any breast inflammation, What to Expect notes that cracked nipples can increase your risk for mastitis, as germs from your baby's mouth or the surface of your skin enter into your breast through the crack. Bacteria multiplies inside the crack of your nipple, causing an infection. A proper latch can help you avoid cracked nipples.

Ad failed to load

4Once You've Had It, You're At A Greater Risk Of Catching It Again

GIPHY

One huge risk of contracting mastitis is if you've had it before according to What to Expect. No one is exactly sure why it increases the risk, but Baby Center noted that repeated bouts of mastitis are due to the fact that you never fully get over the first infection, or that you aren't giving your body enough rest.

5You Can Prevent It By Keeping Breasts Empty

GIPHY

It sounds like the worst thing ever, but La Leche League International recommends nursing frequently to relieve the pain and offer you some comfort. The more breastfeeding you do, the more you'll reduce the inflammation in your breast and open up the clogged areas. You need to drain your breasts to get the infection to go away.

6You Might Need Antibiotics To Treat It

GIPHY

With mild symptoms, you can usually get over mastitis within 24 hours. But KellyMom notes that if the symptoms don't improve in 12 to 24 hours or you become seriously ill, you need to see a doctor about antibiotics. Like most antibiotics, you have to finish the treatment, even if you're feeling better, to keep your body resistant against mastitis. KellyMom also notes that you may need antibiotics immediately if your baby is less than two weeks old, if you have broken skin on the nipple with signs of infection, if your milk is bloody or has pus in it, and if your temperature increases suddenly. You should also call your doctor if you think you have mastitis in both breasts or if your symptoms are severe.

Ad failed to load

7Breastfeeding Is Still Safe

GIPHY

Remember when I told you that emptying your breasts is a great way to relieve yourself of pain? It's also totally safe for your baby. La Leche League International notes that you shouldn't worry about breastfeeding your baby while battling mastitis. The antibacterial properties in your milk protect your baby and your breast infection doesn't put them at risk. Breastfeeding should continue, no matter what treatments you're trying to get rid of it or how painful it may feel. It is honestly your best chance at recovery.

8Your Milk May Look & Taste Different

GIPHY

According to KellyMom, while you're fighting mastitis, your milk may taste saltier due to increased sodium and chloride content (your baby may fuss a bit at your breast due to this.) And if you pump, you may notice that your milk looks lumpy or "gelatin-like." It's totally safe for your baby, but if you feel more comfortable straining the clumps or stringy parts of the milk out, that's fine, too.

9Tight Bras & Clothing Can Make It Worse

GIPHY

Engorgement and blocked ducts can lead to mastitis, which means any pressure or constriction on your chest isn't going to help. Underwire in bras can actually press into the ducts of your breast, along with tight t-shirts or sports bras according to Baby Center. If you're sleeping on your stomach, that can also cause a milk back-up in your breasts and any unnecessary pressure, like a diaper bag strap, can also contribute to mastitis.

Ad failed to load

10Heat & Breast Massages Can Help

GIPHY

Massaging your breast before breastfeeding can be a huge help in emptying your breast completely, and heat can help speed your healing process along. La Leche League International also says wet or dry heat, such as a compress, hot water bottle, or heating pad, not only relaxes your breast, but can help move any dried milk blocking the flow of milk from your nipple. If you can, try breastfeeding while your breast is still warm to encourage the milk to flow.

11You Need Lots Of Rest To Get Over It

GIPHY

Now is not the time to be a superhero. If you're battling mastitis, you need rest and lots of it. La Leche League International notes that this is a huge part of your treatment plan and that you should go on bed rest, keeping your baby nearby, along with water and supplies such as diapers and toys. You'll want frequent nursing sessions anyway, but try hard not to get out of bed or move around. Mastitis already weakens you and makes you feel fatigued, so without the rest, you can't adequately heal.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack