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Understanding mastitis and breast pain

Did you know? Up to one in three moms who breastfeed may experience a painful condition called mastitis. 

2 mins to read Dec 28, 2021

As a new mom who is breastfeeding, you are already doing the best for your little one. You know breastfeeding will give your baby the very best start in life—as well as providing health benefits that will last a lifetime. For some moms, breastfeeding will come naturally and continue without any issues. Yet, for others, it may present challenges. And, like any new skill, breastfeeding can take practice and perseverance.  

Breastfeeding concerns

Some common concerns moms who breastfeed have include worrying they don’t have enough milk (which is, in fact, very rare), sore or cracked nipples, overfull breasts, or breast pain. Painful breasts can be one of the symptoms of an inflammatory condition called mastitis. Mastitis usually occurs due to a build-up or ‘stagnation’ of milk inside a mom’s breast. Another common cause of mastitis is infection in the breast ducts, due to having too much harmful bacteria such as Staphylococci.

Mastitis and breast pain may be common reasons why moms stop breastfeeding earlier than they planned. As well as breast pain, redness, and swelling, mastitis sufferers may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, sweats, shivering, and achiness. There are a number of ways mastitis can be treated, and your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics if infection is present. However, recurrence rates of mastitis can be high.

You can help prevent painful breastfeeding and mastitis by following the advice in 8 ways to help prevent mastitis. If you think you might have mastitis symptoms, speak to your healthcare provider.


  • Amir LH, Trupin S, Kvist LJ. Diagnosis and treatment of mastitis in breastfeeding women. J Hum Lact 2014; 30(1):10-3.  

  • Amir LH, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #4: Mastitis, revised March 2014. Breastfeed Med 2014; 9(5): doi: 10.1089/bfm.2014.9984.  

  • Angelopoulou A, Field D, Ryan CA et al. The microbiology and treatment of human mastitis. Med Microbiol Immunol 2018, 207(2):83-94. 


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