Health conditions

Mastitis

Mastitis is a common but preventable breastfeeding problem.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis occurs when there is a blockage of milk in the milk duct. Some milk may leak out of the duct into the surrounding tissues causing inflammation and infection.

Terms explained

Milk ducts are small tubes inside the breast that carry milk through to the nipples

Signs and symptoms

  • The breast has a red, painful area.
  • An aching flu-like feeling such as a fever, feeling shivery and generally unwell.

How do I know I have mastitis?

Seek medical help if fever lasts more than 6 hours.

Treatment of mastitis

  1. Drain the breast frequently. Attach your baby to the affected side first.
  2. You may need antibiotics for 10 to 14 days.
  3. Keep the breast drained by expressing the affected breast after each feed.
  4. Cool gel packs from refrigerator (not freezer) or cool cloths can relieve discomfort and pain.
  5. Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen will reduce the inflammation and pain.
  6. Paracetamol may be taken to ease discomfort.
  7. It is important to get extra rest. You may need household help to achieve this.
  8. If it is too painful to feed, express your milk using a hospital grade electric pump if possible.
  9. Seek advice from a lactation consultant to determine a cause and prevent a reoccurrence.

Where to get help

Breastfeeding Centre of WA

  • Counselling and appointments 8.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday
  • Phone: 9340 1844
  • More information about Breastfeeding Centre of WA

Ngala Helpline

  • Phone: 9368 9368 – 8.00am to 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)

You can also:

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Acknowledgements
Breastfeeding Centre of WA

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

See also

Link to HealthyWA Facebook page