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HealthInfo Canterbury

Mastitis information

Mastitis (breast inflammation) is common in breastfeeding women. Mastitis can sometimes be caused by a breast infection.

It is important that you see your midwife or general practice team if you think you have mastitis.


Some breastfeeding women can get a breast abscess. If you feel any hard, red, and painful area in your breast, see your general practice team or midwife as soon as you can.

If you are worried about your breasts or breastfeeding, or if you need any help, contact your midwife or general practice team, a breastfeeding support service, lactation consultant, breastfeeding peer counsellor, or a breastfeeding support group. For free 24-hour breastfeeding support and information, phone (03) 338-8447.

How to avoid getting mastitis

How is mastitis treated?

Your midwife, lactation consultant, or breastfeeding support person will check your feeding technique and how well your baby is feeding. You may need antibiotics or pain relief. Sometimes you and your baby may need a further assessment.

In some cases, you may need to use a breast pump or hand expression, to make sure all the available milk is being drained. Your general practice team, midwife, or lactation consultant can give you more information on breast pumps.

Techniques to help with mastitis

If you have mastitis, the techniques below can help you.

Let-down of milk

Blocked ducts

You may feel a painful area on a breast. This is usually caused by a blocked duct. If you feel otherwise well, you haven't had a breast infection before, and your baby is feeding well, you can treat this yourself. Try applying heat to the area, massaging it gently, and resting, as well as following the advice described above.

Let your midwife, general practitioner, lactation consultant, or other breastfeeding support person know if this problem doesn't get any better or if you start feeling unwell. Symptoms such as a headache, aches and pains, and feeling like you are coming down with the flu or a cold may mean that you have an infection that requires further treatment.

When you have a blocked duct or a breast infection, it's important that your baby is encouraged to breastfeed effectively and often, so that milk is removed frequently.

On the next page: Sore, tender, and damaged nipples information

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Review key: HIBRF-24381