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Mastitis is the inflammation (swelling) of the breast tissue and can be a common problem seen in breastfeeding women. The first signs of it may be a wedge-shaped painful red area on the breast which can feel lumpy and hot to the touch. It may cause you to suddenly feel unwell, with flu-like symptoms such aching and higher temperature, as well as shivering. It can happen when milk leaks into the tissues from blocked ducts, and your body reacts to it, causing redness and swelling, although this is not always a sign of infection.

Why does mastitis occur?

  • Baby not feeding properly at the breast. Health professionals call this a problem with positioning and attachment. In the first couple of weeks this should be checked every time your midwife/health visitor or peer supporter sees you feeding. If your baby is not attached properly he/she may not drain the breast effectively

  • Engorgement- if your breasts are over full they are not being drained properly and can lead to blocked ducts (where the milk is stored). This can then cause bacteria to grow.

  • Tight clothing - this is especially true for bras. Make sure you have a good fitting nursing bra that does not press into the skin.

How to prevent mastitis

  • Feed your baby regularly and try to go too long between feeds

  • Don't let your breasts get too full -try to express if you cannot feed

  • Wear a good fitting bra and make sure your clothes don't press hard on your breasts

How to clear blocked ducts

To clear blocked ducts and engorgement (that lead to mastitis):

  • Check that your baby is well attached at the breast and keep feeding.

  • Even though you may feel ill, if you stop feeding it will become worse very quickly.

  • Feed regularly and do not let the breasts become over full

  • Express if your breasts feel uncomfortably full

  • Feed from the affected side first to make sure the baby drains it

  • Try feeding in different positions such as lying down

  • Massage the breast to help the milk flow or use warm flannels

See your GP if these self help measures do not work, or you continue to feel worse. Pain relief can also be taken to try and reduce the swelling and raised temperature.

Pain relief

  • Ibuprofen- reduces the inflammation and reduces pain. Take them following a feed. Do not take if you are asthmatic, are allergic to aspirin or have a stomach ulcer. It is safe to take during breastfeeding.

  • Paracetamol- relieves pain and reduces temperature but does not relieve the swelling. Take two 500mg tablets up to four times a day.

  • Antibiotics may be prescribed by your GP if there seems to be an infection caused by bacteria. These antibiotics are safe to take whilst breastfeeding, and will not harm your baby but it may cause him/her to have slightly runnier poo than normal and can become slightly irritable. However, it is important that you finish the antibiotics.

Written following guidance from Mastitis guidelines (Blackburn with Darwen PCT 2008) and "Mastitis and breastfeeding" (BfN 2007)




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Blood taking, York Hospital

Due to COVID-19, from Monday 6 April the Phlebotomy service at York Hospital outpatient department will be closed until further notice.

We will continue to offer a blood taking services for patients who have urgent bloods requests only, at the nearby Nuffield Hospital. The urgency will have been identified during your medical appointment. Please access the Nuffield Hospital via the main reception and from there you will be directed to Phlebotomy. Please take a seat and wait to be called.

Patients who have routine blood test for yearly check-ups should not attend. Instead, please contact your GP to request an appointment at the GP surgery for your bloods to be taken.

Maternity services

If you are due to have a baby, please visit our website for up to date information about maternity services at this time

Haematology and Oncology services

With effect from Monday 6 April there will be temporary changes to the Haematology and Oncology services at Scarborough and York Hospital.  These decision have been made on the grounds of patient safety in the current coronavirus pandemic.  Find out more here.

Visiting cancelled

Due to the increasing number of cases of coronavirus across the UK, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has made the decision to cancel all visiting to all its hospital sites in order to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

There are three exemptions to the ruling which are for one parent of a sick child under 18, for the partner of a woman giving birth and end of life patients at the discretion of the ward sister.

We would ask people to respect this decision and to treat our staff, who will be enforcing the visiting restrictions, with courtesy and respect.  For more information visit our website.

Outpatient appointments

We know that NHS services will come under intense pressure as the coronavirus spreads, and as a Trust we need to redirect staff, free up staff for refresher training and carry out any works as necessary, so we are able to maximise capacity for patients for when the number of infections peak.  We also need to reduce the number of people coming into our hospitals to protect our patients, as well as keeping our staff safe, well and able to come into work.

To do this, with effect from Tuesday 24 March 2020, along with other trusts in the Humber Coast and Vale partnerships, we have made the collective decision to suspend all non-urgent routine outpatient appointments for at least three months.  Urgent and emergency cases and cancer appointments will be carrying on as normal.

These are unprecedented times and we thank you for your understanding.  We know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried but please not contact the hospital as we will be contacting everyone directly affected in the coming days and weeks.

If you do not receive a letter or a phone call from the hospital, please turn up for your scheduled appointment as normal unless you have symptoms of coronavirus, a cold, flu or norovirus in which case you should contact us to cancel your appointment by clicking here.