Will a poorly fitted bra cause mastitis?
There is never a simple answer when it comes to mastitis, lets be honest. However, there’s a couple of things to think about here when it comes to bras.
Think about how uncomfortable you get when you wear an ill-fitting bra or top when you are not breastfeeding! All the places it digs into and how irritating it is! Chuck in a very changeable breastfeeding scenario and this irritation is only heightened! The bottom line? A poor fitting bra causes compression around the breast tissue.
But then what happens if you want a sports bra because you are returning to activities? Sports bras are traditionally made for full support. Which is great, but this often means the bra is quite compressive, or there is significant underwiring. So for breastfeeding mamas, this becomes problematic.
That compression is enough to irritate the breast tissue and sometimes even get in the way of milk flow, causing milk stasis. Milk stasis is when milk isn’t drained well from the ducts. Think of it like a stagnant pond.
So what’s this got to do with mastitis? Well, mastitis is caused by one of 2 things: a bacterial infection or, you guessed it, milk stasis. Milk stasis is the most likely cause of mastitis if we are suspecting an ill-fitting bra to be the culprit. When the milk sits there for a while in the ducts because a tight bra is blocking it, an inflammatory process in the breast occurs, and you may start feeling some swelling, redness, heat and pain in the area. What makes this confusing is that these inflammatory symptoms can also give you a fever. A fever is traditionally associated with an infection. So it’s pretty difficult to work out if your mastitis is an infection, or inflammation.
An ill-fitting bra may also irritate the breast tissue itself. This means that there is EXTRA fluid round that are of the breast and the ducts. It’s this extra fluid that may impact milk flow and set of the cycle of mastitis. You can see here how mastitis isn’t always about milk. It’s about FLUID FLOW of ALL our bodily fluids including blood, general fluids and milk.
So remember, a good, comfortable bra is important to prevent issues occurring in the first place (Hello, Mlkd.!) and breast health and fluid movement is paramount during breastfeeding journey (Hello, Your Two Jugs!).
Mlkd. x Your Two Jugs
Your Two Jugs:
Elise & Katie are Melbourne based osteopaths who have been actively treating breastfeeding women for the past 6 years. During 2020 lockdown they launched their company Your Two Jugs to educate more women about breastfeeding conditions. Their online video based course, Boobology, is available now with heaps of education and hands on techniques to teach women the do’s & dont’s for mastitis, blocked ducts & engorgement, including preventative strategies for long-term breastfeeding bliss!