Breastfeeding with Mastitis

Mastitis can be frustrating for the mom who is breastfeeding. Aside from the regular soreness and even cracking that can accompany breastfeeding, mastitis can add a number of problems to the mix, including things like fever and malaise. When it is left untreated, mastitis can even lead to serious problems such as a breast abscess. Fortunately, you can continue to breastfeed while you have mastitis.

It is important to understand, first of all, what exactly mastitis is. Mastitis refers to an infection of breast tissue. Mastitis is most often marked by pain, redness, and swelling of the infected breast. Mastitis occurs almost exclusively among women who are nursing. While nursing, nipples may become cracked or have small breaks in the skin, into which bacteria may find its way. In some cases, bacteria may even get into the woman’s breast through the milk duct openings. It is very rare for a woman who is not breastfeeding to have mastitis, although it does happen occasionally.

Mastitis is not harmful to your baby. Your baby may not nurse as fully or frequently while you have mastitis, because the infection will change the taste of your breast milk. Instead of being sweet as it usually is, your breast milk may taste salty when you have mastitis. Still, breast milk will not harm your baby when you have mastitis because of the fact that there are antibodies in the breast milk that protects your baby from various infections and diseases.

Just because you can continue to breastfeed while you have mastitis doesn’t mean that you should let it go, however. Again, if it is not properly treated, mastitis can lead to severe problems, and may even require hospitalization to drain the breast via incision. It is therefore important to consult your health care provider if you have mastitis in order to prevent a more serious problem.

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