Mastitis is a breast infection that causes pain, swelling, redness and tenderness of one or both breasts. It can affect women who are breastfeeding. The milk ducts get blocked and infected. An old wives tale that works to relieve the pain involves using cabbage leaves. Keep the leaves in the fridge so they are cold. Place one or two leaves in your bra against the affected breast. It is important that you continue to feed from the affected breast or the pain will worsen as more ducts can get blocked. If feeding is too painful express milk instead. A passive way to let milk out is to warm the affected breast. For example use a hot cloth before feeding, having a bath or letting hot water run on the breast in the shower.
You may also have flu like symptoms and a high temperature.
If you think you have mastitis you should see your doctor. They will usually prescribe an antibiotic-flucloxacillin or co-amoxiclav (augmentin) both of which will treat the infection and are safe during breastfeeding. Take paracetamol for pain relief and to lower your temperature if it is raised. Ibuprofen is a good painkiller and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Some women may require admission to hospital for intravenous antibiotics. An uncommon complication of mastitis is a breast abscess, which may need surgical drainage rather.