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How to Prevent Breast Infection aka Mastitis

Learn how to prevent a breast infection, also known as mastitis, from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


Mastitis is when your breasts become so severely engorged and there is no way out. It's an infection of the breast, and it usually stems from milk stasis or milk that is just not being removed. It doesn't mean that the one day that you're engorged that that is a mastitis. You will feel a mastitis. You'll have a high grade temperature. You will feel flu-like. You will not be able to get your head off the pillow. You will feel absolutely horrible.

An infection like mastitis needs to be taken care of by antibiotic, so you need to see your doctor. We also have to remove the milk, so you have to use all of our engorgement management techniques in order to resolve that. So, a lot of ice packs, a lot of massage, and after the engorgement has gone down getting into the warm shower and letting the warm water run over, relieve, and get the milk flowing again. During this time, again, you can take some ibuprofen to reduce any kind of inflammation and some pain, but the antibiotics are going to be key.

If you happen to have plugged ducts you will have a low grade temperature. Sometimes they can mimic one another. But, if you take ibuprofen, take a nap, and take a shower and it goes away it's not a mastitis.

We just have to be very careful. It's not as common that women get mastitis within the first couple of weeks after delivery as is thought. There are many, many breastfeeding mothers who automatically think that because they had a slight fever that they had a mastitis, and they didn't. Then they end up going on antibiotics for really no reason.

Let's see quickly if it resolves. If it's a low grade temperature it's most probably a plugged duct, and with some ibuprofen it should dissipate. If not, if you can't get your head off the pillow, you feel flu-like, and you have a high grade temperature you need to see your doctor as soon as possible.

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