Mastitis refers to inflamed, engorged, hard, lumpy and acutely painful breast(s), especially during the first month of breastfeeding. The rest of you doesn’t feel so good either, usually sporting a high temperature.

Why Me?

Mastitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, and is often a sign of not enough rest.

What To Do


  • It is important to keep well nourished. Drink hearty beef, bean or chicken soups.
  • Avoid sugar, coffee and alcohol.

Herbs and Supplements

  • Drinking a herbal tisane containing Calendula and Echinacea will help with the infection and lymphatic drainage. 2-3 cups a day is safe for baby (the mother drinking the tea!), cease if diarrhoea or any other change.
  • Vitamin C is good for infections. Experiment with the dosage, as excess vitamin C will cause diarrhoea in your baby. Start at 250 mg twice daily, and slowly increase to 1 g twice daily.
  • Take two drops of poke root tincture in water, twice daily.
  • Propolis has a strong following among midwives in North America. Take 10-15 drops in water each day. Propolis combines well with echinacea, another antibacterial herb.

Other Steps

  • Clean the outer leaves of a green cabbage, bash the hard central rib with a small mallet, then drape the leaves over the sore breast. Bandage your chest with plastic wrap to keep this elegant bra in place.
  • Bend over a sink full of warm water, submerge your breasts. Allow the milk to flow out, massaging from under the breast to the nipple.
  • For a comfrey or parsley poultice, place two handfuls of the fresh or dried leaves of either in a clean cotton nappy or cloth. Tie the top with a rubber band and steep in simmering water for 10-15 minutes. Leave a few minutes to cool then compress the affected breast(s) with the hot, wet bundle. This will soothe sore nipples, help to unblock tubes and ducts and ease swollen and painful breasts.
  • Keep nursing (or expressing) through the infection. It is important to keep the breasts empty to hasten healing.
  • Rest is vital.

At a glance

Good food
Hearty meat or bean soups.
Food to avoid
Sugar, coffee, alcohol.
Remedies to begin
Vitamin C, echinacea, propolis, poke root, cabbage leaf compress, comfrey or parsley poultice.
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