Breast Infection

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Question

If I have a breast infection, is it still safe to breastfeed?

Answer

It is safe to breastfeed even if you have a breast infection. Breast infections like mastitis can occur when bacteria on the skin (Staphylococcus aureus) enter the breast tissue through breaks in the skin. This infection can cause swelling, redness, inflammation to the breast, fever and pain. Mastitis generally occurs within the 3 months after birth, but can happen any time women are breastfeeding.

Your doctor can diagnose breast infections like mastitis during a physical examination. If you are infected, your doctor will give you a 10 to 14-day course of antibiotics. Your symptoms may improve after the first 1 to 2 days, but in order to prevent further outbreaks, finish the full course of antibiotics and make sure to get enough rest and drink lots of fluids.

It is important not to be discouraged away from breastfeeding because breastmilk is the best for your baby and will actually help you get over your infection. If the infection does not clear up after a full round of antibiotics, visit your doctor. A rare form of breast cancer, called inflammatory breast cancer can be mistaken for mastitis.

Get more information on breastfeeding in our Health Encyclopedia.

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