Fact: Between three and 20 percent of new mums will develop mastitis at some point or another.
But what actually is it?
Essentially, mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that is often (but not always) accompanied by an infection.
It can occur at any stage during nursing and is usually caused by one of two things: milk stasis (aka. a blocked duct) or the presence of bacteria (from the baby’s mouth or mother’s skin.) An over-supply of milk can also bring mastitis on, as can wearing overly tight bras, difficulty getting the baby to attach to the nipple and long breaks between feeds.
It’s a pretty miserable experience, but knowing the tell-tale signs can help:
1. Flu-like symptoms
Early on, mastitis can make you feel shivery, tired and achy – like you’re coming down with something.
The breast will be swollen, sore and may feel hard and hot to the touch.
3. Skin redness
The skin often appears shiny, with redness developing in a wedge-shaped pattern.
Mastitis often causes nausea and sometimes can lead to vomiting.
A temperature spike of 38.3 degrees Celsius or higher is a common sign of mastitis.
For more information about diagnosis, treatment and management of mastitis or for support visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association.