Breastfeeding

Q&A: What Is Mastitis?

What is mastitis? Why does it happen?

The underlying cause of mastitis is the stasis or pooling of milk within the breast,which leads to inflammation and eventually infection. This poor removal of milkcan be caused by a variety of factors such as limiting the time that baby spendsat the breast, infrequent feedings, skipping feedings, plugged duct, or evenoversupply. Although milk stasis is the leading cause of mastitis, any break in theskin can become an entry point for an infectious process to start. This damageto the nipple is characterized by cracking, scabbing, or bleeding nipples usuallydue to poor latch-on technique. Finally, stress, fatigue, anemia, or a weakenedimmune system may cause a mom to feel run-down and become susceptible to abreast infection.