What is Mastitis? Causes, Management and Prevention of Mastitis

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis happens as a result of inflamed breast tissue, that can be caused by the obstruction of milk, an infection or an allergy. Mastitis is not uncommon in breastfeeding women in their first 3 months after delivering their babies and will usually only affect one breast. You'll normally get a red inflamed area that's a bit hard, firm and tender to the touch that sometimes involves an infection. Women will also often have fever as high as 103 degrees, chills and general flu-like body aches. 

So first let's find out, what are clogged ducts? To answer that, we're going to look a little bit about the anatomy of the breast. In the breast, there are lots of tunnels that lead to little pockets/balloons that are called ducts, that breastmilk will fill before moving along those little tunnels, that lead to the nipple for the baby to drink and be nourished by.

When your baby is first born, you've likely experienced breasts that are full or very full if your baby slept for a longer stretch at night and you didn't wake up to feed/pump, you've likely experienced hard and very full breasts. And this is because these pockets in your breasts are totally saturated with milk. If your baby drinks the milk, that pressure and fullness goes down and you experience a lot of relief. But if your milk is not adequately expressed for one reason or another, it can lead to clogged ducts which left untreated (you don't get the milk out) it can potentially lead to mastitis.

Who is most likely to have mastitis?

  1. Moms who've had mastitis with another pregnancy
  2. Women who's breast tissue does not drain properly
  3. Moms with cracked nipples
  4. Women with over engorged breast tissue

Mastitis will usually have no long-term impacts. Your doctor will check for development of an abscess and if results are negative, then antibiotics would be used for treatment. Nursing moms are advised to continue they're doing during treatment. Continuing to breastfeed your baby, using a lactation massager or pump to maintain milk flow, will ensure breast engorgement stays away.

Prevention of Mastitis

Almost 5% of breastfeeding moms experience clogged milk ducts during their first year of breastfeeding. Left untreated, these clogged ducts can turn into painful mastitis. This can make breastfeeding so unenjoyable and uncomfortable that it cuts your breastfeeding journey short.

These tips will help you prevent mastitis and the general challenges of clogged ducts so you can enjoy the incredible breastfeeding journey with your baby. We will also help you treat them if they do come up, so you can recover quickly and return happily to breastfeed your baby.

So, to prevent clogged milk ducts, and by extension preventing mastitis, here are important things to do.

  • Nurse Frequently.
The first and most important thing that you can do is to nurse more frequently. If you have to miss a nursing session, try to pump instead. This frequent expression of milk helps keep those milk ducts from getting too full of milk and getting clogged. It's best to pump every 2-3 hours or on demand from your baby. Of course you can go over that 3 hour mark but as you start feeling full, don't ignore that sensation. Make sure you're listening to your body and express milk when your breasts say, "I am getting too full".
  • Adequately Express Milk
Make sure that your baby/pump is expressing milk adequately. Sometimes babies that don't have a good latch or have tongue-tie or lip-tie, have a difficult life expressing milk which can lead to clogged ducts. Having a baby who can nurse effectively with a correct latch that's comfortable for you, is going to help avoid getting a clogged duct. The same goes for pumping. You want to make sure that you're draining enough milk out of the breast during pumping sessions. As with breastfeeding, you should be pumping every 3 hours during the day and at least every 6 hours at night, if not more, especially during the first weeks. Ensure your pump flange is the right size such that it's properly suctioning the breast to draw out the breast milk. You can get a good double electric breast pump from our store.
  • Change the Position Baby is Nursing In

 Using different holds and placing baby in different positions is going to help you draw out milk from different glands in the breast. If you find yourself always doing the cross-cradle hold, you could try the football hold or the lying down position, to help draw more areas of your breast.

  • Avoid Wearing Restrictive Clothing

Avoid underwire bras for example, or very tight sports bras that restrict milk ad blood flow through the chest area and breasts. During the first weeks of breastfeeding when your breasts are more engorged and full, you're probably going to want to wear a supportive bra, that'll keep everything in. Bras specific for nursing or pumping will give you that support but avoid that uncomfortable confinement from a non-nursing bra.

  • Massage the ducts

Massaging the breast is going to help with better milk flow and this will prevent clogged ducts / clear existing clogs and by extension, help prevent mastitis. It's a good idea to couple the breast massage with a warm compress or while you're in a warm shower to make it more effective. 

Lots of moms use the Caremummy Heated Lactation Massage Pads because they provide the heat needed while effectively massaging your ducts, and they are waterproof too, meaning you can use them during a warm shower. 

Caremummy Heated Lactation Massage Pads are of the best quality and come in reasonable prices, having all essential attributes to overcome breastfeeding issues including breast engorgement, clogged milk ducts, milk flow issues and help prevent mastitis. These massagers will definitely offer you a better pumping and nursing experience.

Grab your pair here.




The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.