Causes, Prevention, Symptoms & Treatment

During a conversation with my heavily pregnant daughter this morning I asked her if she got her breastfeeding bras yet. Her answer to this question is the reason for this blog post.

My daughter was looking for a breastfeeding bra that was boned for extra support! I told that she would not/should not find a boned breastfeeding bra as boning in a bra would likely cause mastitis by ‘digging in’ to the milk ducts in the breast. I told her any tight clothing has the potential to put pressure on, and block the milk ducts. She was quite astonished no one had mentioned this to her before. Including me!

Here are a few tips on preventing this nasty but common condition, what the symptoms are and what to do if you suspect you have it.


  • A correct fitting bra is a must!
  • No clothing that is tight around your breasts, chest area or underarms which causes pressure on the milk ducts. Boned bras or tight tops pressing against the milk ducts in your breasts can cause inflammation or block the duct  leading to infection (mastitis)
  • Empty your breasts fully feeding your baby or with a pump


  • Poor positioning- this is a big one. No breastfeeding mum wants to detach her baby from the breast after spending ages to get them fixed. However your baby will be getting little or no milk anyway & practice does make perfect!
  • Tongue tie – for the same reasons as poor positioning, an undiagnosed (possibly posterior) tongue tie is one of the leading causes of mastitis.


  • Flu like symptoms – tired, achy, fever and/or chills
  • A red lump or area on the breast which is painful and hard to touch.
  • Any nipple discharge – white or possibly blood
  • Burning or stabbing pain while feeding

TREATMENTfor 24 hours

  • Increase frequency of feeding to drain the breast fully or if you cannot feed use a breast pump to completely clear your breast.
  • Start feeding with the affected breast first so your hungry baby will clear it more efficiently than the second breast when they are less hungry.
  • Make sure your baby is positioned properly – ask midwife or lactation consultant if this is an issue.
  • Massage the breast gently prior to feeding
  • Place a warm facecloth on the affected area or warm shower/bath water run over the area

If symptoms are not reducing or subsiding after 24 hrs speak to your GP. Antibiotics may be needed if mastitis worsens.

If you do need antibiotics I recommend using probiotics for yourself and also for your baby to reduce risk of oral thrush.

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