Lumps and Bumps While Breastfeeding
Discovering a lump or bump in your breast is always a reason for concern. You may experience all kinds of lumps while breastfeeding, which, while needing proper treatment, are certainly not dangerous. Below are several lumps and bumps that you may experience while breastfeeding and their treatments.
Plugged ducts are the most common cause of lumps in your breast. Read all about them in the plugged ducts article on this site.
A painful local swelling or lump in the breast may be an abscess. An abscess is a walled off collection of pus in the breast. They may be found just under the skin near the nipple or deep in the breast far from the nipple. They are almost always a result of poorly treated mastitis. It is not always possible to diagnose an abscess by clinical examination and you may require ultrasound. Abscesses must be drained. This is usually done by needle or catheter aspiration and drainage along with antibiotics. Breastfeeding should continue during treatment unless the abscess is so close to the areola that the baby's mouth would touch it. In that case, the breast should be gently expressed. The milk of the affected breast may be temporarily salty tasting. Your baby may refuse to nurse from it until the milk returns to its normal taste. Meanwhile you will need to express your breast.
Galactoceles are localized collections of milk, which form as a result of an obstructed duct. They are smooth to the touch, mobile and tender. During lactation, they fill up with milk. Over time the water portion of the milk is reabsorbed in the body leaving a cheesy substance that can be aspirated. You may need several aspirations as the galactocele may refill with milk. There is no reason to stop breastfeeding with a galactocele.
There are a number of other causes of benign breast lumps during pregnancy and lactation. A lactating adenoma is a painless mass of densely packed masses of acini and lobules (milk making tissue in the breast.) Lipomas, painless fat filled cysts, can occur in the breasts as well as other fatty parts of the body. Fibroadenomas are benign breast tumors that are made of glandular and fibrous breast tissue. You may feel a round smooth rubbery mass that moves around your breast. If you have fibrocystic disease, your breasts may become tender and lumpier as they prepare for lactation. Women with type 1 diabetes are prone to benign breast lumps called diabetic mastopathy.
On The Safe Side
It is important to have breast lumps evaluated to rule out an abscess or malignancy. Make sure to see you doctor if:
A breast mass does not improve with in 72 hours of treatment (i.e. warm compresses and proper drainage as with a plugged duct)
Your baby refuses to feed from the breast that has a lump.
You have a plugged duct or area of milk statis that repeatedly occurs in the same location.