Breast pain: Is it possible to have mastitis during pregnancy?

I am 30 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. Two days ago I woke with deep, shooting pains in my left breast, radiating from the armpit toward the nipple. The pain has changed to a steady, throbbing ache. I do not have any redness, swelling, tenderness or lumps. I had a breast infection in this same area eight years ago when I nursed my first child. Is it possible to have a breast infection during pregnancy?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Breast infections -- nonlactational mastitis -- are possible during pregnancy. They often present with breast pain (usually one-sided), as well as fever and/or other flu-like symptoms.

A persistent case of thrush, which can present with shooting, deep breast pain, could also be present. Often women with thrush (candidiasis) have one or more of the following:

  • a history of vaginal yeast infections
  • use of antibiotics, steroids or birth control pills
  • history of diabetes (including gestational diabetes), anemia, or immune system disorders
  • diet high in sugars and dairy products

You need to be properly evaluated by your health care provider to determine the cause of your pain, and its appropriate treatment.

See "Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book" for more information on nonlactational mastitis. Best of luck!

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