Breastfeeding Your Baby
What causes a red sore area in a breast?
This may be a plugged duct. A plugged duct can happen if milk builds up in a milk duct and does not flow. Pressure builds up behind the duct and can cause soreness in the surrounding area. Plugged ducts can become infected. With continued nursing, plugged ducts usually clear up in 1 to 2 days.
To relieve plugged ducts:
- Breastfeed every two to three hours. Sucking will help relieve the plugged duct.
- Before feeding, take a shower or place warm, wet washcloths on your breasts.
- Massage your breasts before the feeding. During the feeding, firmly massage the breast from behind the lumpy area and towards the nipple area to help the milk come out of the breast.
- Change your baby’s nursing position to encourage proper drainage.
- Drain one breast well before switching sides.
- Express the milk from your breasts by hand or with a pump if they are still lumpy after feeding.
- Get as much rest as possible and drink whenever you are thirsty.
- Make sure your clothing and bra are loose.
If you develop a fever greater than 38˚C, feel as though you are getting the flu, or your breast is red and sore, you may have mastitis. Continue to breastfeed. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue and/or milk ducts. It may come on suddenly and make you feel sick with chills and aches. The breast may feel firm, swollen, hot, and painful and may appear red or have red streaking. If you think you have mastitis, contact your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8‑1‑1 immediately.
Mastitis can be treated with frequent feedings, antibiotics, and pain relievers. Rest is extremely important in treating mastitis. Keep the breast well emptied by breastfeeding and expressing milk frequently if necessary. Your baby will not get sick from this infection.
If you have red, itching, persistent sore nipples, burning or shooting pain in the breast during and after feeding, or cracked nipples that don’t heal, you may have thrush (a yeast infection). Both the mother and the baby may show signs of infection, or just one may show signs.
Your baby may refuse to breastfeed, may repeatedly pull off the breast during feedings, be gassy and cranky, and have slow weight gain. The baby may have thrush in the mouth (white patchy areas that look like milk that won’t rub off) or in the diaper area (red rash).
If you have thrush, both you and your baby need to be treated. See your health care provider as soon as possible. Antifungal creams are used to help clear up thrush. Wash bras daily and avoid using breast pads if possible. If you are using a breast pump, boil the parts daily.
A used soother can carry thrush back into your baby’s mouth. Try not to use a soother, replace it frequently or boil it for 5‑10 minutes each day.
Babies need a prescription for antifungals. Mothers can use non‑prescription medications.