Can Mastitis Affect Your Milk Supply?

by Mishal Ali Zafar

Breasts are awesome. They look beautiful, they provide nourishment for your baby, and you're lucky enough to have two of them. I truly enjoyed mine, especially when I was breastfeeding, but when I got mastitis, it became painful to nurse. If you are a nursing mom, you may question, can mastitis affect my milk supply?

What is mastitis, anyway? According to the Mayo Clinic, mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that is common among nursing moms. It can cause redness, pain, and swelling, accompanied by fever and chills, and can be caused by bacteria entering your breast, or a plugged duct. When I had mastitis, I remember that my breasts were so painful, the slightest touch caused them to hurt, and they were red and heavy. But does that infection affect your milk supply?

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Angie Mann Natero tells Romper that even with mastitis, your milk supply should not suffer as long as you keep nursing, which can be difficult. "The issue with mastitis and supply drop in my experience is that often, mom doesn't remove milk adequately because of related pain, and in turn, supply decreases in response to the less than optimal milk removal."

Kelly Mom suggested that if you have mastitis, you should continue to nurse or remove milk by hand or pump in order to maintain milk supply. It's also advised that you use heat or warm compresses and gentle massage to ease the release of milk let down, and to nurse the affected breast first, making sure your baby has a good latch. When I had mastitis, I filled a sock with uncooked rice, secured it with a rubber band, and warmed it up in the microwave to make my own warm compress, which really helped to quell the pain. Kelly Mom also noted that mastitis may need to be treated with antibiotics, so you should definitely call your doctor if you are experiencing pain with fever.

Mastitis shouldn't affect your milk supply as long as you keep removing milk from your breast. It may be painful, but if you power through it, with the right treatment and remedies, it'll be over soon enough, and your milk supply will be back to normal. If you're struggling to get your baby to latch while battling mastitis, reach out to an IBCLC for help.