Mastitis and blocked ducts can cause breastfeeding to become a painful experience. If a blocked milk duct is not treated early, it can lead to further inflammation, fever, joint pain and antibiotic use.
Symptoms of mastitis can include:

  • Redness, swelling and an area of hardness within the breast tissue
  • Flu like symptoms – feeling hot and cold, with aching joints, temperature over 38.5 degrees Celsius
  • Exhaustion
  • Feeling progressively worse. With a simple engorgement, blocked duct or mastitis without infection, you should gradually start to feel better and not worse. ​

Some common causes of mastitis include long breaks between breastfeeds, an overly tight bra or pressure on your breasts from tight clothing, sleeping position or a seatbelt, or poor attachment to the breast.

What can be done to treat it?
Whilst antibiotic use is the first treatment of choice, physiotherapists use therapeutic ultrasound and gentle massage to assist in relieving painful breast symptoms and enable women to continue with breastfeeding. Ideally physiotherapy treatment begins within 24 hours of initial symptoms, and you may require a short daily treatment for a few consecutive days.

There are some simple things you can do at home if you begin to feel symptoms, these include using a warm compress over the breast prior to feeding, ensuring your baby is latching properly and trying to get rest as much as possible (this is usually the hard part!). It is safe and advised to continue to breast feed your baby if you have symptoms.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, contact our practice to organise an appointment with our women’s health physio Rhyannon!