Cheryl Parrott, BSN, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant at Community Hospital North.
As a lactation consultant, this is a common question that I receive from breastfeeding mothers. Most often, they’re experiencing mastitis.
Essentially, mastitis is a breast infection. It is most commonly caused by missed feedings, plugged ducts or a change in breastfeeding patterns. Also, nipple damage caused by a bad latch, abrupt weaning, or giving bottles and not pumping, can lead to mastitis.
The first thing to do it is to continue to feed or pump your breasts – keep the milk flowing. Often, extra feedings or pumpings will empty the breast, clear a plug and symptoms will subside.
But, if after 24 hours, you don’t feel better, or your fever is over 101, call your primary doctor or OB. They will be able to prescribe you an antibiotic to treat the mastitis. While waiting to visit your provider, you can use ice packs and over-the-counter pain/fever reducers to manage symptoms.
It is important to note that your milk is safe to use even if you have mastitis, and doctors will provide a breastfeeding-friendly antibiotic.
If you experience recurrent plugged ducts, or breast infections, contact a Community Health Network lactation consultant.