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- Previous mastitis
- Abrasion or cracking of the breast nipple
- Yeast infection of the breast
Pressure on the breasts, caused by:
- Wearing a bra or clothing that is too tight
- Sleeping on the stomach
- Holding the breast too tightly during feeding
- Baby sleeping on the breast
- Exercising, especially running, without a support bra
Anything that causes too much milk to remain in the breast, including:
- Irregular breastfeeding
- Missed breastfeeding, which may cause overdistention of the breast
- Baby's teething
- Use of supplemental bottle feeds
- Incorrect positioning of the baby during feedings
- Abrupt weaning
- Redness, tenderness, or swelling of the breast
- Aches, chills, or other flu-like symptoms
- A burning feeling in the breast
- A hard feeling or tender lump in the breast
- Pus draining from the nipple
- Culture of breast milk or nipple discharge
- Breast ultrasound if an abscess is suspected
Methods to Clear Blocked Breast Ducts
- Breastfeeding frequently—Breastfeeding with mastitis is not harmful to the baby. Talk to your doctor if you are also taking medications though, to make sure the medications are not harmful to your baby.
- Offering the baby the inflamed breast first to promote complete emptying of infected breast
- Using a breast pump to express milk
- Applying warm compresses to breasts prior to feeding to stimulate milk ejection reflex
- Apply ice compresses to the affected area of your breast after breastfeeding.
- Consider using over-the-counter pain relievers as recommended by your doctor.
- Be sure to ask your doctor what pain relievers are safe for you and your baby. Taking aspirin is not advised during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Breastfeed frequently
- Use a breast pump when you need to
- Wash your hands and breast nipple before breastfeeding
- Avoid wearing bras or clothing that is too tight
- Avoid sleeping on your breasts, or allowing a baby to sleep on your breasts
- If your nipples crack, apply lotion or cream as recommended by your doctor
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health http://www.womenshealth.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Amir L. Breastfeeding and Staphylococcus aureus : three case reports. Breastfeed Rev . 2002;10:15-18.
Barbosa-Cesnik C, Schwartz K, et al. Lactation mastitis. JAMA . 2003;289:1609-1612.
Laibl VR, Sheffield JS, et al. Clinical presentation of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol . 2005;106:461-465.
Mastitis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/mastitis.html. Updated February 2011. Accessed July 22, 2013.
Masitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 1, 2013. Accessed July 22, 2013.
Spencer J. Management of mastitis in breastfeeding women. Am Fam Physician . 2008;78(6):727-731.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm; Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 07/2013
- Update Date: 05/11/2013