When Mastitis Strikes


It’s awful. Those who’ve lived it will tell you it is painful, miserable and inconvenient. Many nursing mothers will face mastitis, and for many first-timer’s, it’s hard to know when you have it. Symptoms often resemble the common cold or flu…but then you feel that horrible pain in your breast. Yep, you’ve got mastitis.

The first two times I had mastitis began with horrible body aches and a fever which led me to think I had caught a cold. It wasn’t until the next day that I felt the pain in my breast. By the fourth and recent time with mastitis (that’s right, FOUR awful times!) I knew what it was immediately. And fortunately, I knew how to deal with it better.

My first mastitis episode happened at about 4 months into nursing my baby. The second episode hit just before my daughter turned one. The third time was around 18 months, and this fourth case of mastitis came at 27 months. I honestly didn’t think it was possible considering I barely nurse my little one anymore. Just goes to show that plugged ducts can happen to nursing mommas anytime. And you are especially susceptible if you’ve had mastitis before.

For those of you experiencing your first bout of this painful beast or those who want to be prepared for it, here are some quick references and tips that could help. Stay healthy out there ladies!

What is mastitis?  “Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness of the breast” -Mayo Clinic.

How do you get it?  When your breast gets full to the point of engorgement it can lead to plugged ducts or mastitis. Infrequent nursing, tight bras/shirts, stress or fatigue, oversupply or latch problems, anemia – all are common causes.

Symptoms: All or part of  the breast is extremely painful, warm, tender, swollen and red. Also, flu-like symptoms such as body aches, fever and chills.

Common Treatments: Cabbage leaves, warm and cold compresses, plenty of fluids and good nutrition,  go bra-less, pain reliever, gentle massages on affected area, rest and NURSING!

Length: If treated early on, you can avoid major infection and be over it in a matter of days. Left untreated, mastitis can cause infection that requires antibiotics and may take longer to recover from.

Tip – Caring for baby during recovery is tough, so use help wherever you can get it while you recover.

Detailed info on causes, symptoms and treatments of mastitis can be found on askdrsears.com.


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