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Natural At Home Remedies For Mastitis

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Mastitis is a common problem for new moms that causes painful inflammation in the breast. It usually happens because of blocked milk ducts or infections, that cause breast pain, flu-like symptoms, and sore nipples.  It usually comes on very quick with little to no warning signs but recognizing the symptoms early is important to hopefully stop it with quick treatment. Natural remedies for mastitis can help relieve the pain and help heal without having to use over the counter medicine.

As a mother who has breastfed three times and experienced mastitis twice, let me share my personal experience, especially how effective natural remedies can be when dealing with this bacterial infection and making breastfeeding easier.

graphic of breasts with mastitis

Is Mastitis Serious?

Mastitis is not usually considered a serious condition but it is very painful. It affects about 10% of all breastfeeding moms in the U.S. (source) and can usually be treated at home with natural remedies.

Using cold packs, warm compresses, and herbal teas can help soothe mastitis, but it’s important to know when these remedies aren’t enough. Keep a close eye on your symptoms. If you notice flu-like symptoms, breast pain that doesn’t get better, or significant swelling that doesn’t get better after a few days, it’s time to see a doctor. These signs might mean you have a serious issue like a breast abscess or a deep infection that needs medical attention. Even if you prefer natural treatments, these symptoms may mean complications that need a healthcare provider’s care.

What Does Beginning of Mastitis Feel Like?

The first time I experienced mastitis it came on suddenly in the middle of the night. I was eight weeks postpartum and still getting up with the baby every two to three hours. I woke up with a high fever and my left breast was very tender, red, hot to the touch and had a hard lump on the side.

The second time I started feeling very tired and just not myself in the middle of the day. I didn’t think much of it at first but within a few hours the tell tale signs of mastitis started……painful red breast, and a lump, this time in my right breast. 

As I said before, spotting the early signs of mastitis can make a big difference in how fast you get better or how long it takes to heal.

Mastitis Symptoms

  1. Breast pain or tenderness
  2. Swelling in the breast
  3. Redness on the breast skin
  4. Warmth in the affected area
  5. Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, fatigue)
  6. A burning sensation during breastfeeding
  7. Sore or cracked nipples
  8. A lump in the breast that feels hard or painful

As soon as you start feeling any of thes symptoms, it’s important to take action quickly to prevent the condition from getting worse.

Can Mastitis Be Treated Without Antibiotics?

In most cases home remedies for mastitis are enough to help with the pain and quickly get you back on your feet. But if you experience a high fever for more than 24 hours, antibiotics may be necessary to help clear an infection.

If you develop a serious infection and have to take antibiotics, make sure to supplement with probiotics and fermented foods to lower your chances of also developing a yeast infection.

Yeast infections are very common after taking antibiotics.

Foods And Supplements To Fight Yeast Infection:

  • First of all, avoid sugar. Sugar feeds yeast.
  • Yogurt: Contains probiotics that help restore healthy bacteria in your body.
  • Garlic: Has antifungal properties that can combat yeast infections.
  • Coconut Oil: Contains caprylic acid, which has antifungal effects.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Helps balance your body’s pH and fight yeast.
  • Cranberries: Can prevent yeast from sticking to surfaces in the body.
  • Oregano Oil: Contains carvacrol and thymol, which have antifungal properties.
  • Probiotic Supplements: Help restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antifungal properties (use diluted and externally).
  • Vitamin C: Boosts your immune system to fight off infections.
  • Turmeric: Has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fermented food and drinks like sauerkraut or kimchi and Kombucha.
  • Fermented cod liver oil.

Tried And Tested Natural Home Remedies For Mastitis

At the first symptoms of mastitis, taking quick action is very important. Applying cold packs to the sore area can quickly reduce inflammation, ease breast pain, and lower swelling. Keep breastfeeding or use a breast pump to maintain milk flow, even if it hurts, to prevent milk from getting stuck and causing more issues.

graphic of mom breastfeeding her infant using the football hold.
  1. The very first thing you need to do is get the clogged milk duct completely drained. The best way to do that, is to rent a hospital grade pump, a regular pump won’t have enough power at least not one I have ever owned. You can rent one from a lactation consultant, or the hospital where you delivered might rent them out as well. If you had a home birth ask your midwife if she has one available. I’ve decided that if I was to have another baby, it might be a good idea to rent a hospital grade pump in advance just to have on hand for this very reason.
  2. Nurse, nurse, nurse! Continue to nurse and/or pump as much as you can so you can unclog the blocked milk duct.
  3. Eat raw garlic. Garlic has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and anti-bacterial properties. It is nature’s antibiotic. Finely dice or crush a clove of garlic, let it sit for ten minutes and then put it on a tablespoon topped with raw honey and swallow. Do this with every meal until your symptoms subside.
  4. Put a warm compress on your breast or take a hot shower while massaging the affected breast to help sooth and release some of the pressure from the clogged duct.
  5. Take high doses of vitamin C
  6. Use essential oils. In a roller bottle add 5 drops of each lavender, tea tree (melaleuca), and wild orange essential oils and top off with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. Put the lid on and shake well. Apply 3-4 times a day. I did it after I nursed.

7. Place  cabbage leaves on the affected breast. Here is a post explaining why cabbage helps with mastitis. 

8. Rest and stay hydrated.

graphic of a mom with mastitis resting

Breastfeeding and Lactation Consultant Resources

La Leche League International will answer all your questions regarding breast feeding.

To find a lactation consultant near you visit the International Lactation Consultant Association directory and fill out a short form.

Lifestyle Changes for Mastitis Prevention and Recovery

Changing your lifestyle can help prevent mastitis and speed up recovery. New moms face many challenges, and mastitis shouldn’t be one of the toughest ones. Simple changes can greatly lower the risk of this painful condition.

First, learning proper breastfeeding techniques is very important. A poor latch or not fully emptying the breast can lead to blocked milk ducts, which can cause infection. Making sure the baby latches on correctly helps with milk flow and reduces sore nipples and breast pain.

Using different feeding positions, like the football hold, can also help. This position gives better control of the baby’s mouth and helps milk flow smoothly, reducing mastitis risk. Staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet boosts the immune system, making it stronger to fight off infections. Drinking enough water and eating nutritious food is crucial, even during the busy and tiring days of new motherhood.

These lifestyle changes not only help with milk production but also improve overall health, protecting against breast infections.

How To Prevent Mastitis

  • The best thing you can do is take care of yourself.
  • Nourish yourself well, drink lots of bone broth.
  • Rest.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Frequent Nursing or pumping.
  • Do not wear a tight bra or clothing.
  • Don’t sleep on your tummy. Be aware to not put any kind of pressure on your breasts.
  • Take a Sunflower Lecithin supplement, it reduces the stickiness of breast milk and encourages milk flow.
  • Eat lots of fermented foods. Feed your gut good bacteria to avoid infections.

When to Seek Medical Help For Bacterial Mastitis

It’s important to know when natural remedies for mastitis aren’t enough. Watch your symptoms closely. If you notice flu-like symptoms, worsening breast pain, or significant swelling that doesn’t seem to get better, it’s time to see a doctor. These signs may mean serious issues like a breast abscess or a deep infection that needs medical attention. Even if you prefer natural remedies, these symptoms suggest complications that require professional mastitis treatment like antibiotics.

How Long Does It Take For Mastitis To Clear Up?

The first 24 hours are the worst. Make sure to start these at home remedies as soon as you realize you have mastitis and do them multiple times a day.

At 48 hours you should no longer have a fever and should be feeling much better.

All your symptoms should continue to improve as the days pass but do NOT stop doing these remedies until you feel 100% back to normal.

The hard lump is the last thing to disappear usually around the 4th or 5th day.

​Finding Natural Remedies For Mastitis That Actually Work

New moms dealing with mastitis face a tough challenge. Breastfeeding can be hard, but especially with mastitis, which causes sore, inflamed breasts, flu-like symptoms, and blocked milk ducts. 

I wrote this blog post to share natural remedies based on my personal experience to help with the pain and to help you heal quicker from this painful condition.

Using cold packs may help reduce inflammation. Continuing to breastfeed and using a breast pump helps keep milk flowing. Warm compresses, cabbage leaves, and certain herbal teas can also help soothe the discomfort of mastitis. Making simple lifestyle changes and improving breastfeeding techniques, like using the football hold or making sure the baby latches properly, can prevent and help recovery.

An oversupply of milk or a poor latch causing sore nipples doesn’t always need medical treatment. Most of the time, simple adjustments and natural remedies are enough. But, it’s important to recognize when to look for medical help. If you have signs of a breast abscess or an infection that doesn’t improve with home care, see a doctor.

From One Mama To Another

I am not a healthcare professional, just a mom who wants to help other moms experiencing this painful side effect of breast feeding.

I’ve had mastitis twice and stopped it in its tracks a third time using these at home remedies.

How about you? Have you experienced mastitis? Share with me in the comments what helped you.

Save For Later: At Home Remedies For Mastitis

at home remedies for mastitis pinterest graphic

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  1. Awesome article! Thanks for sharing! I’ll be keeping it in mind for all my mama friends. Amen for cabbage. My sister brought me one as soon as I had my girl, breastfeeding went great for me so we cooked up a storm, but definitely a must to have just in case!

  2. I have treated mastitis at home too. The homeopathic remedy phytolacca decandra is amazing for it, I take it now at the first sign of a clogged duct.

    1. oooh I don’t know very much about phytolacca decandra. Thanks for sharing what helped you Dee, I’m definitely going to do some research on it!

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