One of the biggest fears of a breastfeeding mom is getting mastitis. Mastitis is an infection of the breast that can cause redness, swelling, and pain. Your breasts can feel warm to the touch, your nipples can crack, and you may even have pus or blood in your milk. It's generally awful, and believe it or not, there is one tiny thing that could be causing you to get mastitis: your bra.
Or rather, the wrong bra. Historically, nursing bras haven't been the best looking undergarment, but they served their purpose of supporting your breasts and giving you easy access to breastfeed your baby. Recently, however, stores have started carrying much more flattering styles, including underwire and push-up nursing bras. But this innovation proves the old sentiment that beauty can lead to pain.
Susan Condon a lactation consultant for Baby Center, warned that nursing moms should not wear underwire bras as the the underwire presses into the ductile system. Consistent pressure on the breast tissue, such as that of a bra's underwire, can block milk flow and lead to plugged ducts and mastitis, according to Kelly Mom. Wearing a bra that is too tight or puts your breasts in constricted positions (such as a push-up bra) can create the same problem.
In his website, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP, wrote that moms should wear a comfortable, loose nursing bra that has plenty of room to expand as needed throughout the day. La Leche League International (LLLI) advised leaning forward when putting on your bra so that your entire breast falls in the bra cup, making sure that no breast tissue is pinched under the edge of the cup or bra. Additionally, the health and wellness site Patient suggested that nursing mothers not to wear a bra at night. Bras can move while you sleep and put pressure on your breasts.
If you do get mastitis, LLLI recommended not wearing a bra at all as long as your breasts are sore and tender. It is common for the breast area to remain reddened or to feel bruised for a week or so after mastitis has been treated and is better, according to Kelly Mom. Because mastitis can feel like the flu, bed rest is recommended by LLLI. Keep your baby near you and nurse often, as this will help alleviate pain. If you have a fever for more than 24 hours, contact your doctor, because you may need antibiotics.