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- Previous mastitis
- Abrasion or cracking of the breast nipple
- Wearing a bra or clothing that is too tight
- Missed breastfeeding (causing overdistention of the breast)
- Irregular breastfeeding
Pressure on the breasts, caused by:
- 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:
- Baby's teething
- Use of artificial nipple or pacifier
- Incorrect positioning of the baby during feedings
- Abrupt weaning
- Yeast infection of the breast
- Low resistance to infection or immune deficiency disorder
- Psoriasis or other skin conditions that affect the nipple
- Diabetes mellitus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Use of cortisone drugs
- Prior breast surgery or implants
- Nausea or vomiting
- Aches, chills, or other flu-like symptoms
- Redness, tenderness, or swelling of the breast
- A burning feeling in the breast
- A hard feeling or tender lump in the breast
- Pus draining from the nipple
- Swollen lymph glands in the armpit or above the collar bones
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 medicines though, to make sure the medicines are not harmful to your baby.
- Offering the baby the infected 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.
- If your mastitis is not caused by 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.
Prevent engorgement of the breast with milk by:
- Frequent breastfeeding
- Use of breast pump
- 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
Family Doctor.org http://familydoctor.org
Women's Health.gov http://www.womenshealth.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.aap.org. Accessed July 20, 2009.
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.
Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc; 2000.
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. FamilyDoctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/reproductive/breast/952.html. Updated October 2009. Accessed October 18, 2010.
Mastitis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mastitis/DS00678. Updated March 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/92/2012 -