Mastitis is a breast infection. It begins suddenly and if not treated, gets worse quickly. Germs may enter through a break in the skin or through the nipple. Once treatment starts, the mother usually feels better in a day or two. The milk will not harm the baby and breastfeeding can continue.
The mother usually has:
- Flu-like symptoms – fever of 100.8º or more, chills, body aches
- A painful, hot, reddened breast
What To Do:
- Call the doctor and describe the symptoms.
- Antibiotics may be needed. Take all of the prescription, even after starting to feel better. Most
antibiotics are safe to use while breastfeeding.
- Wrap the breast with a wet, very warm towel or cloth; or soak the breast in a basin of very warm
water. Repeat several times a day until the redness is gone.
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol™) or ibuprofen (Advil™, Motrin™) for pain.
- Drink more fluids to replace what’s lost with a fever.
- Keep the breasts soft by continuing to nurse frequently. Add gentle massage to help the breasts empty.
- Get more rest and nap when the baby naps.
- Contact a doctor if the symptoms haven’t gone away after finishing the antibiotic.
To Avoid Mastitis:
- Don’t allow the breasts to become overly full. Try not to miss or put off a feeding. Talk to a
breastfeeding counselor about ways to manage if making more milk than the baby can take.
- Treat sore nipples quickly. See the “Sore Nipples” information sheet.
- Avoid tight bras or clothing that binds.
For more help, call the county health department or the Arkansas WIC Breastfeeding Help-line at