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Mastitis is a common infection among breastfeeding women. The infection causes the breast to become tender, red, and hot. The woman also experiences flu-like symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Breast infections can occur when the milk ducts become plugged or when the nipples become cracked. In rare cases, the connective tissues of the breast may become infected.
An inflamed, painfully tender breast combined with flu-like symptoms may indicate that a nursing mother has mastitis. Frequent feeding or pumping from the affected breast can help, as can rest and drinking lots of fluids.
Mastitis usually affects only one breast, and is treatable with antibiotics. Women with mastitis are encouraged to continue to breastfeed, or to pump the milk from both breasts, to prevent the breasts from becoming abscessed. Mastitis is not dangerous to the infant, since the milk is not infected.
Delores C. S. James
Worthington-Roberts, Bonnie, S., and Rodwell Williams, Sue (1993). Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation, 6th edition. Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark.
Tilson, Bonnie. "Mastitis." Available from <http://www.lalecheleague.org>