Lactation Mastitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Lactation Mastitis: A Comprehensive Guide


Lactation mastitis is a common condition that affects breastfeeding women. It is an inflammation of the breast tissue that can cause pain, swelling, redness, and fever. Mastitis typically occurs in the first few weeks after childbirth, but it can also develop later during the breastfeeding period.


The most common cause of lactation mastitis is a bacterial infection. Bacteria can enter the breast through the nipple, which may become cracked or damaged during breastfeeding. Other risk factors for mastitis include:

  • Breast engorgement
  • Milk stasis (milk that is not removed from the breast regularly)
  • Poor latch
  • Fatigue
  • Stress


The symptoms of lactation mastitis can vary, but they typically include:

  • Pain in the breast
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Your doctor will diagnose mastitis based on your symptoms and a physical examination of your breast. He or she may also order a breast ultrasound or culture to confirm the diagnosis.


The treatment for lactation mastitis typically includes antibiotics to clear the infection. You may also be given pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce your symptoms. In some cases, you may need to stop breastfeeding for a short period of time to allow the infection to clear.


There are a number of things you can do to help prevent lactation mastitis, including:

  • Breastfeed your baby frequently to prevent milk stasis.
  • Use a good latch to prevent nipple damage.
  • Avoid wearing tight bras or clothing that restricts your breast milk flow.
  • Take care of your breasts by washing them with warm water and soap and avoiding harsh chemicals.
  • Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet to support your immune system.


Most cases of lactation mastitis respond well to treatment. However, it is important to see your doctor right away if you think you may have mastitis. Early treatment can help prevent the infection from becoming more serious.


In rare cases, lactation mastitis can lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Breast abscess
  • Sepsis
  • Toxic shock syndrome

When to See a Doctor

See your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Severe pain
  • Redness and swelling that is getting worse
  • Pus or other drainage from your nipple

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