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10 Tips for Preventing Mastitis While Breastfeeding

Mastitis, an inflammation of breast tissue that can lead to infection, is a common concern for breastfeeding mothers. It can cause pain, swelling, redness, and even fever, making breastfeeding uncomfortable or even impossible. However, with proper care and preventative measures, mastitis can often be avoided altogether. Here are 10 tips to help breastfeeding mothers prevent mastitis and maintain their breastfeeding journey smoothly.

1. Ensure Proper Latching

Achieving a correct latch is essential for successful breastfeeding and can significantly reduce the risk of mastitis. When the baby latches onto the breast correctly, they can effectively drain the breast, preventing milk from accumulating and causing blockages. To achieve a proper latch, ensure that the baby’s mouth covers both the nipple and a significant portion of the areola. Seek assistance from a lactation consultant if needed to master the latch technique.

2. Frequent Nursing Sessions

Frequent nursing helps to keep milk flowing smoothly and prevents engorgement, which can lead to mastitis. By nursing on demand, babies can effectively regulate their milk intake, preventing the breasts from becoming overly full. Aim for at least 8 to 12 nursing sessions in a 24-hour period, especially during the early weeks of breastfeeding, to establish a good breastfeeding routine.

3. Empty the Breasts

Ensuring complete breast drainage during nursing sessions is important for preventing mastitis. Encourage the baby to nurse fully on one breast before switching to the other to ensure thorough emptying. If the baby seems satisfied after nursing on one breast, start the next feeding session on the breast they didn’t nurse from last time to ensure both breasts are emptied regularly. Kellymom explains more about how to empty the breasts.

4. Avoid Tight Clothing

Tight clothing, such as bras or shirts with constricting straps, can obstruct milk flow and increase the risk of mastitis. Choose loose-fitting, breathable clothing that allows for unrestricted movement of the breasts. Avoid underwire bras, which can compress breast tissue and potentially lead to blocked milk ducts.

5. Maintain Good Hygiene

Maintaining proper hygiene practices can help prevent bacteria from entering the breast and causing infection. Wash hands thoroughly before each breastfeeding session, and clean the breast with warm water and a mild soap, avoiding harsh chemicals that could irritate the skin. Keep breastfeeding equipment, such as pump parts and nipple shields, clean and sterilised according to manufacturer guidelines.

6. Proper Breast Care

Taking care of the breasts during breastfeeding can help prevent issues like sore nipples and cracked skin, which can increase the risk of mastitis. Use lanolin cream or coconut oil to moisturise nipples and promote healing. Ensure that bras and breast pads are clean and dry to prevent moisture build-up, which can contribute to bacterial growth.

7. Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Adequate hydration and nutrition are essential for maintaining milk supply and preventing mastitis. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and focus on a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Certain foods, such as oats, flaxseeds, and leafy greens, are known to support milk production and overall breastfeeding health.

8. Manage Stress

Stress can negatively impact milk supply and increase the risk of mastitis in breastfeeding mothers. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to promote relaxation and overall wellbeing. Seek support from friends, family, or a lactation consultant if feeling overwhelmed or stressed about breastfeeding.

9. Rest and Relaxation

Prioritise adequate rest and relaxation to support breastfeeding success and prevent mastitis. Ensure that breastfeeding mothers have opportunities for naps and breaks throughout the day to recharge and recover. Delegate household tasks and responsibilities to others to alleviate stress and allow for more time to focus on breastfeeding and bonding with the baby.

10. Seek Prompt Medical Attention

Despite preventive measures, mastitis can still occur. It’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms, such as breast pain, redness, and flu-like symptoms, and seek prompt medical attention if suspected. Treatment may include antibiotics to clear the infection and relieve symptoms. Continuing to breastfeed through mastitis is usually safe and can help promote faster recovery.

Preventing mastitis while breastfeeding is achievable with the right knowledge and methods. By ensuring proper latch, frequent nursing, maintaining good hygiene, and taking care of oneself, breastfeeding mothers can reduce the risk of mastitis and enjoy a positive breastfeeding experience. Remember to seek support from healthcare professionals or lactation consultants if encountering challenges along the way.


Can mastitis be prevented entirely?

While it’s not always possible to prevent mastitis completely, following preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk.

Is it safe to continue breastfeeding if I have mastitis?

Yes, it’s generally safe to continue breastfeeding through mastitis, and it can even help alleviate symptoms and promote faster recovery.

How long does mastitis typically last?

With prompt treatment, mastitis symptoms often improve within 24 to 48 hours, although it may take several days for full recovery.

Can mastitis affect milk supply?

Mastitis can temporarily decrease milk supply in the affected breast, but frequent nursing and proper care can help maintain supply.

When should I seek medical help for mastitis?

If you develop symptoms of mastitis, such as fever or worsening breast pain, seek medical attention promptly to prevent complications.

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