Conditions of the lactating breast

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue that can cause painful, red, engorged breast tissue and sometimes flu-like symptoms. With the challenges already associated with caring for a new baby, the onset of mastitis can be an added stress and overwhelming issue for new mums. It often develops quickly and unexpectedly. 

Physiotherapists can use therapeutic ultrasound to relieve inflammatory symptoms such as redness, swelling and breast tenderness that are associated with mastitis and blocked breast ducts. 

Therapeutic ultrasound works through the delivery of sound waves to the body tissues that create deep tissue heating and provide a micro-movement of the breast tissues to aid unblocking of the affected areas. 

Physiotherapists can also help to advise on other conservative measures that can be used to help manage these conditions. 

Some of the added measures we suggest you try as soon as symptoms present include:

  • Rest as much as possible.

  • Keep the affected breast as empty as possible by feeding from that side as often as you can.

  • Applying warmth for up to a few minutes to the affected breast before a feed can help with milk flow.

  • Feed from the affected breast first, when baby is sucking vigorously.

  • Check that your baby is attached well and can get the milk easily.

  • Relax to help your let-down reflex work well.

  • Gentle stroking massage of the lump toward the nipple.

  • Try different feeding positions to help empty the breast.

  • Hand express if needed, after feeds.

  • Cold packs after a feed may help relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Use of anti-inflammatory medication such as Voltaren (discuss with a pharmacist first)

  • See your medical adviser if you cannot clear the lump in a few days, or sooner if you develop a fever or feel very unwell.

As we prioritise appointments for patients with conditions of the lactating breast please call the clinic on 03 9337 9125 for an appointment. If it is outside of clinic hours you may email or direct message our facebook page.