Is it safe to breastfeed with mastitis?

As if the sleepless nights and endless diapers wasn’t enough of a challenge for a new mom, along comes an infection called mastitis that could weaken any moms resolve to continue breastfeeding.

According to magazine, the #1 reason why women quit breastfeeding is pain.  And any mom who has suffered through a bout of mastitis knows that this infection takes pain to a new level.


So what is mastitis anyway?

The medical community defines mastitis as a breast infection, which often occurs in the first 6 months of breastfeeding and may be accompanied by a painful lump in the breast, angry looking red streaks on the breast, fever, chills and a general feeling of malaise.

Here, at Pump It Up Baby, I have a slightly different explanation.

To me, Mastitis is the Breastfeeding Gods testing your resolve to continue breastfeeding through thick, thin, pain and agony.  

Yes, it really is that painful!

breastfeeding with mastits

Is it safe to breastfeed with mastitis?

Personally I’ve suffered through it twice with my first child.  And like many other moms, my question was, is it safe to breastfeed with mastitis?

The answer is Yes!

According to WebMD, it is completely safe to breastfeed with mastitis and any bacteria in your milk will be destroyed by your baby’s digestive juices.

In fact, if you continue to nurse it can help relieve the symptoms and reduce the blockage.  Even if you are taking antibiotics for the infection, that will not harm the baby.  So feed away.


Ok, kudos, you’re still determined to breastfeed even though you’re in agony.  What can you do to make it easier?

  1. Believe it or not, cabbage leaves!

No, I haven’t lost it, it’s a technique I learned at the lactation clinic.  Keep a cabbage in the fridge or freezer for a while.  Peel off a leaf (or two for both sides) and stuff it inside your bra where the infection is.  Keep it there for about 20 minutes.  The cabbage leaves act as a cold compress that reduces some of the inflammation and helps flush out the infection.

It works wonders for resolving a blocked milk duct (different from mastitis, there’s no infection) and provides quite a bit of relief when you’re trying to breastfeed with mastitis.   

Try it for yourself.

2. Take a hot shower or place a heating pad on the affected breast. This can help loosen the clogged duct and reduce inflammation,

3. Massage the breast. This can help loosen the plugged milk duct.

4. Empty out your breasts. Which means feed your baby. Your baby is the most efficient pump for emptying your breasts.  But through that pain?  Ouch!

What really worked for me was using a breast pump.  I honestly don’t think I would have been able to continue breastfeeding during mastitis had it not been for my trusty Medela Pump in Style.  It’s certainly less painful to express the milk rather than have the baby tugging at some very sore and painful breasts.

5. Get some rest. As with any infection, your body needs all the support it can get.  So give it the break it needs while its fighting the infection.

6. Last but not least, you might need a round of antibiotics to help fight the infection and painkillers for relief. But rest assured, the treatment will not harm the breastfeeding baby.