Mastitis During Pregnancy?

Updated on April 02, 2008
S.H. asks from Leawood, KS
13 answers

Has anyone ever heard of or experienced mastitis during pregnancy? If so, how was it treated? I have an appointment with DR in the morning.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the great advice. I saw the DR this morning and he prescribed antibiotics and will see him again next week to follow up.

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E.S.

answers from Wichita on

Mine was treated with antiboitics. But to help with the pain now I would add some heat to the affected area. That helps to draw the infection out. And when you are breastfeeding massage that area to help the milk get out of that area. Those are the only things that helped me out. Good luck!!
--E.

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B.S.

answers from Kansas City on

My doctor just gave me an antibiotic and pain killer since it was excruciating! Ugh! You poor thing. It's really nothing to worry about. Also, like the other lady said, a hot shower really helped. It won't be long though and you'll be up and going again! Good luck!

(It was almost a treat for me! Then I got to experience what it would be like to have normal size perky boobs! Hahahaha! (I'm teeny tiny.))

1 mom found this helpful
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G.N.

answers from St. Louis on

I never had one during pregnancy. I got it 1 week after my son was born from nursing him. I went to the hospital and they gave me antiobiotics to treat it.

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D.B.

answers from Joplin on

i had it with my last child. the dr told me it would clear up on its own. i had blood in my milk after my baby was 4 days old.

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J.V.

answers from St. Louis on

Yes, I had it w/ my first baby. It is extremly painful and I had very bad flu symptions. I went to the Dr. and was put on 3000 mg/day of anibiotics. In about 24 hrs I started feeling better. Within several days I was breast feeding again on that breast. I did not have this issue w/ my second baby. Good Luck and get lots of sleep, it will speed your recovery.

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M.P.

answers from Rockford on

Just one more thing, since you've already been to the doctor, and something in the area has already been mentioned, but do you wear an underwire bra? If yes, you will want to get away from that as soon as possible, particularly where you are already having difficulties and the baby isn't even here yet. I had mastitis three separate times with my first baby, and it seemed like each case was worse than the previous--I wouldn't wish it on anyone! Underwire bras put pressure on a lot of bad areas, and right now, your breasts are preparing to become tools--you deserve to take care of them. I found some wonderful bras at bravadodesigns.com. They are so comfy and wonderfully supportive, a combo which can be hard to come by. They are so great I still will wear mine, even though I'm no longer nursing! It may be weird, but a good bra is hard to find!! Anyway, this long rambling thing may not even apply, but if you are wearing underwire, please consider loving yourself enough to switch! Good luck and feel better!

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C.R.

answers from St. Louis on

Hey S.,
This site says that you live in the Wright City area. Do you? I do.
Anyway, I have had Mastitis with every child. I have had four children and never bought formula - nursed them all till the age of 1. Anyway, I used to call the doctor and he would prescribe me a mild antibiotic but after a couple of kids I just would take motrin and pump the breast with the problem and massage the hard (clogged gland) while pumping. (Sometimes I would cry while doing it because it hurt.) But after a day or 1½ days it would go away. When I got Mastitis, I had a fever, I was tired (of course), and would have a clogged milk duct and a rash looking mark on my breast. I would sleep a lot and leave the laundry to another day. Motrin helped. Anyway, I hope this helps! Good Luck!

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C.V.

answers from St. Louis on

I had a severe case and ended up needing surgery. Most people are "cured" with a round of antibiotics. But my bacteria was a "resistant" strain so the antibiotics didn't help. Make sure you notice an improvement within a day or two or call the dr back!

Hope all is well and the "easy" solution works for you!

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S.S.

answers from Sioux Falls on

S.,
I am so sorry for you. I experienced mastitis 3 times while breastfeeding my son. My problem seemed to be recurrent in the same spot of the same breast. I was treated with antibiotics that were safe for the baby. I agree with the suggestions you have been given so far. What I would like to add though is that my lactation consultant recommended taking the over the counter Lecithin to prevent getting mastitis again. The lecithin doesn't cure mastitis that you already have, but can help prevent it from happening again. After I began taking one tablet daily, I didn't get mastitis again. I know that it was safe to take while I was breastfeeding; however, you may want to check with your doctor if it is safe to take while pregnant. Hope you feel better soon.
S. S.

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J.W.

answers from St. Louis on

Dear S.,

I had that happen at different times during my two pregnancies. I was told told use cabbage leaves in my bra as something in the leaves is absorbed and helps somewhat. Also, I used the shower or hot/warm wet towels on them to help relieve the pressure. Another thing was a glass of wine - but you may not agree with this - you could pump and dump if you are breast feeding. Engorgement can also happen if you are waiting too long to feed the baby if you are breast feeding.

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T.Z.

answers from Topeka on

You can apply heat (moist heat usually feels better) and massage the area. That will help loosen things up and the heat increases blood flow to fight the infection. Some women don't even need the antibiotics to clear up the infection. They just use things like heat and massage and wearing loose clothing (so there's no pressure on your breasts) for a few days. You may want to look at how your bra fits you. If it's not a good fit it could be putting pressure on a milk duct and irritating it, causing the plug or mastitis. Good luck. I hope you are feeling better soon.

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R.W.

answers from Columbia on

Yes, I've had mastitis during pregnancy and it is really unpleasant. I felt like I had the flu and ran a temp of 103. Bascially, it's a plugged milk duct. I went to the doc and she gave me antibiotics and told me to take tylenol. Also, put warm washcloths on your breast.

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K.B.

answers from Wichita on

S.,
I got this info. from the La Leche League website. Here's the link if you want to go straight there http://www.llli.org/NB/NBMarApr07p76.html

OR I copy and pasted it below. Good luck
K.

Dealing with a Plugged Duct or Mastitis
Sara Walters
Carmarthen Wales UK
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 2, March -- April 2007, pp. 76-77
Ouch! The soreness of a lump in the breast can be painful for a nursing mother. It's at times like these that your commitment to breastfeeding your baby can be truly tested, especially when putting your baby to the breast may be the last thing you feel like doing. If the blockage has become infected and turned into mastitis, then it's possible that you may have been told to wean. But is weaning really necessary?

The short answer to this question is, "No, you do not need to wean." In fact, weaning may make the problem even worse. Generally, in the case of a plugged duct or mastitis, there are three steps you can take to help you recover quickly: apply heat, get plenty of rest, and nurse frequently. Plugged ducts happen when the milk duct has become inflamed because the milk is unable to flow through easily. You may notice redness, or feel a tender spot or a sore lump.

What causes plugged ducts?
There are many causes of plugged ducts, including not having your baby well positioned at your breast; too big of a gap between nursing sessions; giving "top-up" bottles after breastfeeding or overusing a pacifier; and wearing a bra that is too tight or other tight clothing. I've even heard of a mother getting a plugged duct after lying on her tummy for a back massage!

What can I do?
Take action promptly. Your best move is to take your baby to bed and stay there for as long as possible. If this isn't possible -- especially if you have other children -- then try to rest as often as you can. Often, a plugged duct is a sign that you are doing too much. It is important to try and lie down for a while and nurse your baby.

Nurse frequently on the affected side. Even during the night, you should try to nurse every couple of hours. It's only by nursing that you will be able to clear the blockage and get the milk to flow freely again. You may have to alter your nursing position -- it helps if you can get your baby's chin pointing toward the plugged duct. This may involve some nursing gymnastics on your part, such as leaning over the baby on your hands and knees and letting your breast hang loose.

Check your baby's position at the breast. He should be on his side facing you without having to turn his head to get a large portion your areola in his mouth.

Apply heat. Take a warm shower, or apply a heating pad or hot water bottle. Gently massaging the area while it is still warm and then nursing your baby or hand expressing some milk immediately afterward will help to clear the blockage.

Take off your bra. Your bra may be a cause of the problem.

What should I do if I get mastitis?
Mastitis is another name for a breast infection, and this happens when the plugged duct doesn't clear and gets infected. You will know that you have mastitis because in addition to the symptoms of a plugged duct, you will also feel ill with a fever, or flu-like symptoms.

Treat mastitis as you would a plugged duct. Remember that it is perfectly safe to nurse your baby. Antibodies in your milk will protect your baby from any infection. Suggestions that you wean from the infected side may make matters worse. (See "Breast Abscess and Breast Lumps"). Frequent nursing will help the infection clear up more quickly. And again, take yourself off to bed. You're ill, and it's where you need to be!

If the fever persists, or you continue to feel ill, then you may want to contact your doctor, who will probably prescribe antibiotics. Many antibiotics are compatible with breastfeeding, so make sure that your doctor prescribes one that is. You should also complete the course of tablets even if you feel better before you have finished. It is important to continue to nurse frequently and rest.

If an infection reoccurs shortly afterwards, it is a sign that the original infection did not clear up. If you find that you frequently suffer from plugged ducts or mastitis, talking with a La Leche League Leader may help you pinpoint the source of the problem.

Breast Abscess and Breast Lumps
A breast abscess is very unusual, but it can occur if mastitis is not treated quickly or correctly. It is a very painful, localized infection containing pus and must be treated immediately. This is done by surgically draining or aspirating the breast. You can continue to nurse on the unaffected side, and may even nurse on the affected side, especially if the abscess was treated by needle aspiration. If, however, the abscess was surgically drained, it may be painful to nurse, especially if the incision is close to the areola. If this is the case, then you may need to hand-express for a day or two. Keeping the breast empty will help the breast to heal.

Most women worry when they discover a breast lump, and obviously breasts feel very different when a woman is lactating. However, if you discover a lump that does not go away after a week, even after careful treatment of a plugged duct, you should consider consulting with your doctor. In many cases, breast lumps are benign tumors (fibromas) or milk-filled cysts (galactoceles), all of which can be diagnosed and treated while you continue to breastfeed. It is very rare that a lump is a sign of cancer. But be sure to consult your doctor if the lump continues to grow, does not move, is firm and hard, or there is dimpling of the skin.

Care Plan
If:

You see red patches on the breast,
You feel a hard sore lump in the breast,
You feel achy and run down,
You have a low grade fever (less than 38.4°C [101°F]),
Then:

Continue to feed the baby eight to 12 times each 24 hours from both breasts.
Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and increase your vitamin C intake.
Hand express or pump the affected side if the baby does not thoroughly drain that side.
Use alternate massage (massage and compress the breast and hard area with your fingertips each time baby pauses between sucks).
Apply heat prior to feedings to promote drainage.
Ask your health care provider if you can use a medication such as ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation.
If:

You do not see results or feel better in eight to 24 hours,
You continue to run a fever or suddenly spike a high fever (38.4°C [101°F] or higher),
The breast becomes red, hot, and swollen,
You see pus or blood in the milk,
You see red streaks on the breast from the areola to the underarm,
A cracked nipple looks infected,
You have chills and continue to feel worse,
Then:

Call your doctor.
If an antibiotic is prescribed, take the full 10 to 14 day course.
Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and increase your vitamin C intake.
Continue to nurse frequently on the affected side (or pump if the baby is unwilling or unable to feed well on that side).
Use alternate massage and hot compresses on the affected side to help it drain better.
Use different positions at various feedings to drain all parts of the breast.
If pain inhibits let-down, nurse on the unaffected breast first then drain breast thoroughly on the affected side.
Talk with a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader to help you find out what is causing the mastitis so that it does not recur.
Reprinted from the LLLI informational sheet, Care Plan for Mastitis

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