Mastitis is an infection of the milk ducts in both lactating and non-lactating breasts, it is however more common in lactating breasts. It can be caused by blocked ducts, infection or even allergy.

Symptoms include fever, breast pain, swelling, warmth and flu like chills.

In mild cases mastitis can be treated with pain relievers and frequent drainage of the breast, taking special care to focus on massaging the infected area gently while pumping to help clear the infection. Alternating between cold and warm compress may help bring down any inflammation and help drain the breast completely.

In more severe cases a prescription for antibiotics to help clear the infection may be necessary, in some rare cases, a medical procedure to drain the infection may be recommended.

Despite mainstream advice, milk from a breast inflicted with mastitis or inflamed ducts is safe to feed baby.

If you are worried, or not seeing any improvement, then it is important to see your doctor or lactation consultant immediately.

Blocked Ducts

A blocked duct is an obstruction of a milk duct, usually due to inflammation or a clogged nipple pore, the area may feel hot, tender or slightly red.

Blocked ducts can affect supply as usually milk flow is obstructed. Blocked ducts are usually resolved through applying cold, heat or vibration to the area to work out the obstruction, massage the area during pumping. Making sure you avoid feeling engorged, avoiding tight or underwire bras will help prevent blocked ducts.

No antibiotics are needed to treat a blocked duct, but antiflammatories or pain relievers may be needed


Thrush is a common yeast infection which can infect both mom and baby.

Symptoms include burning or stinging pain, itching, pink or red shiny skin and deep shooting pains before, after or during a pumping session.

Yeast is a normal part of a normal, healthy digestive system but can become overgrown and cause thrush.

A thrush infection can be treated with antifungal creams such as Nystatin or gentian violet, your pump and bottles should be well sterilized by boiling them in a pot of water for 20 minutes after each use.

If you have thrush your baby should be treated for it regardless of whether or not they show signs, take baby to your doctor for oral antifungal medications and sterilize all toys, dummies and bottles to avoid reinfection of you both. Thrush usually clears within a few days of treatment, but treatment should not be stopped until the course is finished, even if symptoms disappear.

Increased sugar intake can cause recurrent thrush infections so avoid things like jungle juice and other high sugary foods if you are predisposed to thrush infections.

Strawberry Milk

As a pumping mom, you are more likely to encounter this phenomenon as mothers who direct feed often do not notice blood in their milk. Strawberry milk is due to a small tear or damaged duct within the breast which produces blood and turns the milk pink or red. This milk is not harmful for baby but can be a little off putting, often moms choose to mix the strawberry milk with previously pumped milk to dilute the pinkness instead of throwing out a yield.


Blebs are small water or milk filled blisters on the nipple, they can be painful, but more often than not, they are just a mild annoyance. Do not squeeze or pop the blebs, as this can lead to infection, instead gentle exfoliation and moisturisation throughout the day will ensure it disappears and prevent any further occurrence.

Tears and Friction Burns

Pumping can cause small tears in the nipple or friction burn from using an incorrect flange size, making sure you use the correct flange size can help you avoid both, aswell using lubrication such as coconut oil to prevent friction and lanolin to sooth painful nipples.