Use a warm compress
After a doctor has made a diagnosis, most likely prescribing an antibiotic to wipe out the infection, home care is the next step. Dr. Ross says, “Treatment involves using a warm compress to the affected breast, pumping regularly and taking an effective antibiotic. The good news is you can still breastfeed with mastitis as long as the antibiotic is safe with nursing.”
Dr. Daneshvar suggests alternating hot and cold — using cold compresses or ice packs to reduce local pain and swelling, along with heat packs or a hot shower to relieve an inflamed, clogged duct.
Massage the breast
Franke also endorses using warm compresses on an infected breast, and she says that massaging a breast while nursing or pumping can improve milk expression and provide added pain relief. For mastitis massage, Dr. Daneshvar recommends “massaging the affected breast from the outside circumference of the breast, inwards towards the nipple
Empty the breasts completely
To give an infected breast the opportunity to heal — and to prevent mastitis from occurring in the first place — it can help to completely empty a breast every time you nurse. Dr. Daneshvar tells her patients to empty breasts fully by using ongoing breastfeeding, pumping and/or hand expression at each feeding. “Do not stop breastfeeding because of treatment,” she says.
Pay attention to clogged ducts
As is the case with most health problems, and especially breastfeeding struggles, the best treatment is always prevention. “Mastitis is a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics. If left untreated, it can progress to breast abscess, which may require surgical treatment,” Laurie MacLeod, a midwife at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says. “If a woman has only a plugged duct, which is typically the precursor to mastitis, it is OK to manage this with nonmedical treatment. Emptying the breast can be helpful in addition to warm compresses and massage at the site. If a patient has a fever, malaise, body aches, warmth or redness in the breast, she should call her health care provider immediately.”