This post is part of our complete guide on treating engorgement and clogged ducts. Refer back to the guide if you want a complete list of topics covered, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. If you're specifically interested in identifying the first signs of mastitis, please read on!
What are the first signs of mastitis?
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast occurring together with flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, general malaise). It can either affect one breast or both. The affected breast(s) will often be reddened, warmer than usual, swollen and painful to the touch. They will also sometimes have hardened lumps.
It’s often easy to mix up mastitis with engorgement or plugged ducts. The main difference is the flu-like symptoms: if you have them, you most likely have mastitis.
When faced with mastitis, don’t panic. Even though it’s painful, it’s not overly harmful to you or your baby. It’s particularly important that you keep breastfeeding when having mastitis as it’s probably the best thing you can do to solve the issue. Mastitis has no incidence on the quality of your breast milk, it’s as good for your baby as usual.
If you suspect mastitis, contact a physician who’ll be able to prescribe appropriate medication. They’ll most likely give you antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory medicine together with an analgesic to deal with the pain. They’ll also likely encourage you to keep breastfeeding and brief you on proper breastfeeding techniques.
So to summarize, what are the first signs of mastitis?
- Flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, general malaise)
- Reddened breast(s)
- Swollen breast(s)
- Breast(s) warmer than usual, sign of an inflammation
- Breast(s) painful to the touch
- Hardened lumps on the breast(s)