Dear new moms, here is all you need to know about Mastitis of the breast

Mastitis is one of the most common breastfeeding issues. The breasts, in this case, look red, warm and tight. So, you need to be careful.
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You may continue breastfeeding as long as you like. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Kavita Singh Published: 8 Jul 2022, 13:36 pm IST
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For those caught unaware, Mastitis is nothing but breast inflammation. The breasts have several glands and ducts, which are subdivided into many branches. These small ducts (lactiferous ducts) cover the areola and carry the milk to the nipple. So when these breast tissues are infected, it is called mastitis and it is one of the most common breastfeeding issues. There are three types of Mastitis, subareolar, intra mammary and retro mammary.

Here’s everything about Mastitis

1. Subareolar mastitis

It happens when there is an infection in the areola. The main cause of subareolar mastitis is the bacteria which reaches to the Montgomery glands via cracked nipples.

Its symptoms are:

  • Red inflamed area
  • Pain in that area
  • Edematous swelling
  • Treatment:
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Secretions drainage (in severe cases)

2. Intra mammary Mastitis

Also known as Breast abscess, it is of two types. One is Lactational breast abscess and second is non-lactational breast abscess. Intra mammary Mastitis is the infection of the intra mammary tissues, and the Lactational breast abscess is often seen in breastfeeding mothers. The common causes include cracked nipples, retracted nipples, improper latch, and clogged ducts.

Read on to know if all breast Metasis. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Its symptoms are:

A non-Lactational breast abscess is also seen in menopausal, post-menopausal women, and smokers.


  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Secretions drainage (in severe cases)

3. RetroMammary Mastitis

It is the abscess just behind the mammary glands. The main cause is the Infection of intercostal lymph nodes like tuberculosis of ribs, or any bacteria that reaches to the lymph nodes. The symptoms depend on the underlying disease, like in the case of tuberculosis, the symptoms related to tuberculosis can be seen.

How do you know if you have it?

It is most common in breastfeeding mothers. The breasts, in this case, look red, warm, and tight. Also, the woman might feel some flu-like symptoms like fever, pain, and chills. Lastly, it is difficult to express the breast milk too.

How to prevent it?

When you have clogged milk ducts, and bacteria enter the breast via cracks in your nipple, it can lead to mastitis of the breast. Improper latch, missed feeding sessions, over pumping and sudden weaning are the risk factors, and they can lead to engorgement of the breast in breastfeeding mothers.

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When the breast is overfilled with milk for a longer period of time, it results in pathological engorgement of the breast, which makes the mother feel lumps in the breast, pain in the breast, redness and warmth. If this condition is neglected, it leads to bacterial infection, which results in mastitis of the breast tissue. So, the best prevention is to keep your breast soft and meet a lactation expert, if you feel any pain during breastfeeding.

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Breastfeeding can be a fulfilling, but a challenging experience. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Can I breastfeed while I have mastitis?

The answer to this question is yes. It will not just help you to relieve and heal the Mastitis but it is also safe to feed the baby at this time. This will ensure the proper emptying of the breast and prevent further progression of the problem. You can feed the baby on the breast at least for 15-20 minutes on each side. If the baby is not able to latch, using a breast pump is suggested.

Some other non-medical treatments include:

  • Hot and cold pack
  • Warm compress or shower before expressing
  • Cold compress can use after a feed it helps to reduce pain
  • Cabbage leaves can be applied to relieve congestion for non-breastfeeding mothers

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About the Author

Kavita Singh, Physiotherapist and lactation expert, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Patparganj. She has over 6 years of experience of working with pregnant and postnatal ladies and ladies suffering from pelvic floor related problems and breastfeeding issues. She has led antenatal classes, active birthing classes, Garbh Sanskar Session, postnatal exercise classes, preconception sessions, Women and teenage personal health counselling sessions and classes for PCOD and PCOS. ...Read More

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