Yes, and you should! Keeping the breast drained is one of the most important parts of mastitis treatment. Rapid weaning from an affected breast will only make matters worse.
If you start to exhibit symptoms of mastitis, you should reach out to your doctor or midwife so they are aware. The most important thing to do is to continue to remove milk from the affected breast. Many women are afraid to nurse from a breast that has mastitis, and that’s understandable – mastitis is not pretty! Also, some moms worry that by nursing they will be passing the infection on to their baby.
The good news is that keeping the breast drained is the best thing you can do, as often times the reason mastitis happened in the first place was that milk was not being effectively removed (either from scheduled feedings or poor latch, for example) and bacteria were able to grow in this nutrient-rich milk.
The bacteria that most commonly causes mastitis is S. aureus, and this is a bacteria that is found all over our skin. Therefore, this milk will not harm your baby (do check with your pediatrician if you have a preterm or medically fragile infant first). In the healthy term infant, there is no reason to stop breastfeeding from a breast that has mastitis. Breast massage can help with milk removal, as can applying heat before a feeding.
Reviewed by Sara Connolly, March 2020