Mastitis is a breast infection of the milk ducts. It happens when bacteria enter the breast through an opening in the nipple (especially cracked, irritated nipples) or any break in the skin of the breast. Once the bacteria enter the breast, the damaged tissue becomes infected. With mastitis, you will need to contact your doctor to get a prescription for antibiotics. Mastitis will not clear up on its own, so please don’t delay getting treatment. Complete the entire treatment of antibiotics to avoid a recurrence.
As with engorgement and blocked ducts, there are some comfort measures you can use until the breast heals. Use warm heat on the infected area before breastfeeding to aid let-down and relieve pain. You could try a warm shower or soak breasts in a pan of warm water. Continue to breastfeed frequently on both breasts. Your milk is not infected and is perfectly fine for your baby. Apply cold packs after each breastfeeding to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Drink enough fluid to satisfy your thirst. Water and unsweetened fruit juices are best. Ask your doctor for pain relief medication if needed. And, most importantly, get plenty of rest (I know, easier said than done with a new baby!)
Here are some tips you can use to prevent further occurrences of mastitis: