Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue, with or without infection, that most often occurs in lactating women due to plugged milk ducts. It is most common 6 – 12 weeks postpartum, but can happen anytime. It may present as a red, swollen, firm area on the breast that is painful.
When the milk ducts are not emptied after breastfeeding, the milk collects and sits in the ducts, called milk stasis. This collection of milk then clogs the duct and causes milk to back-up and leads to infection. Cracks and fissures in the skin allow bacteria to enter and infect the clogged duct. This results in painful, swollen areas of breast tissue. Risk factors include a weakened immune system (being tired or stressed can make that worse), using only one position to breastfeed, wearing a tight-fitting bra that restricts milk flow, previous episodes of mastitis, or having sore and cracked nipples.
Patient will experience decreased pain, redness and swelling; patient will not exhibit signs of infection; patient will resume breastfeeding with effective emptying of the breast
Assess vitals for signs of systemic infection
Mastitis may or may not be the result of infection. Monitor for fever.
Assess breasts and note swelling, erythema and tenderness
Drinking water helps to promote milk production and flow.
Apply warm compresses before breastfeeding or milk expression (pumping)
This helps dilate the milk ducts to allow for the expression of breastmilk. Standing in a warm shower may also help.
Apply cool compresses after breastfeeding or milk expression (pumping)
This helps relieve pain and sooth sore breasts
Examine patient breastfeeding; observe position and baby’s latch
Improper positioning or bad latch can cause nipple pain and irritation and discourage the patient from fully emptying the breast. Make sure baby has no anatomical cause for bad latching.
Provide lactation education
Provide education and support for patient and encouragement to continue proper breastfeeding which will help resolve symptoms.
Create Your Free Account