Breastfeeding? Continue When It’s Painful And It May Lead To Mastitis, Warns Expert

·Editor, Yahoo Life UK

Breast may be best (or that’s what we’re told), but it definitely isn’t for everyone – as one expert explains.

Joanna Franks, a consultant at University College London, has warned mums that continuing to breastfeed when it becomes painful can be dangerous and lead to mastitis – a blockage of milk in the breast which affects around one in 10 breastfeeding mums.

Pain while breastfeeding is a sign of mastitis (Rex)
Pain while breastfeeding is a sign of mastitis (Rex)



The condition makes breasts really sore and the tissue tender and inflamed.

But while it can be treated with cold compressions, anti-inflammatories and plenty of fluids, Joanna says it's a condition that most new mums probably don’t even know they can get.

“Most women I see have never been warned that a breast infection is a possibility with breastfeeding," Franks told Mail Online.

“I am all for breastfeeding – I am the mother of two small boys and breastfed both. However, it does not work for every woman.”

“Our bodies are not all identical, and just as we are all different shapes and sizes, so we all have a different aptitude for breastfeeding.

Miranda Kerr shared this breastfeeding snap on Instagram (Instagram/Miranda Kerr)
Miranda Kerr shared this breastfeeding snap on Instagram (Instagram/Miranda Kerr)



“Breastfeeding is not always intuitive. If you persevere when it is evidently not working for you or the baby, then you need to get expert advice.”

If mastitis isn’t treated, it can develop into an abscess – which, as you may’ve guessed, isn’t pleasant.

“A breast abscess is a painful collection of pus that forms in the breast,” says Franks. “This can occur if bacteria enter breast tissue or if the milk ducts that carry milk become blocked, resulting in stasis or build-up of milk.

“Unfortunately, once a breast abscess has developed it may require surgical drainage under general anaesthetic.”


By the time a mum realises something is wrong, help isn't always immeadiately available.

“The seriousness and severity of breast infection is often not recognised in the community and mothers often don’t know where to turn,” says Franks.

“Unfortunately, an increasing number of women come to the breast clinic or the A&E department when it’s too late for me to manage the infection or abscess with antibiotics and image-guided drainage.”

[New Mum Blog: My Experience With Breastfeeding]

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Do you think there’s enough support for women struggling to breastfeed? Let us know in the comments.

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