Breast Lumps and Nursing
Breast Lumps Are Scary
There's no question: Finding a lump in your breast is enough to make you stop breathing for a second or two. Even though breast lumps (particularly in younger women) are often not caused by cancer but are non-cancerous, benign lumps, the anxiety still comes. If you find a lump in your breast, have it examined by your doctor who will then determine a course of action - if one is necessary. Besides, it will relieve a lot of pressure once you know what's going on.
The normal breast is connected to muscles on the chest wall. There are no muscles in the breast itself rather the breast is made up of fatty tissue. Within the fatty tissue are lobules, which are glands that form milk. The milk drains from the glands into the ducts when you breastfeed. When the baby nurses, the milk leaves the duct through the nipple. Depending upon the demand, the glands and milk ducts increase and decrease in number. When breast lumps appear, they involve any of these tissues: fatty tissue, glands or ducts.
What are the Different Causes of Breast Lumps?
A breast lump is alarming at any time, but a breastfeeding mother might also worry if the lump may adversely affect her baby. Even though the primary concern (and often first thought) is breast cancer, the fact is that breast cancer is very rare in lactating women. According to the LaLeche League International, for each year a woman breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer decreases by 4.3 percent. Most of the time the breast lump is not a matter of great concern and the baby is not adversely affected in any way.
Breast lumps that are hard, mobile to a degree within the breast and are uniform in size and shape are more often than not the result of a plugged duct, mastitis, an abscess or a galactocele.
· Even though a plugged duct is the least serious of the conditions, it should be treated as soon as possible to prevent it morphing into mastitis or an abscess. It is usually caused by bacteria or germs that enter through cracks in the nipple. If it is left too long, it can become an abscess.
· Mastitis is accompanied by flu-like symptoms of fever, aching, and lethargy. Red streaks may be seen radiating from the nipple up to the chest wall. It can take some time to resolve mastitis and antibiotics are often used to reduce infection.
· An abscess is usually the result of a plugged duct that swells and the abscess will require draining or removal. It can grow to the size of a lime, feels hot to the touch and is very sore and sensitive.
· A galacocele is a milk-filled cyst. These cysts can be drained using a thin needle inserted into the lump.
· A fat necrosis occurs when there has been a trauma or injury to the breast tissue. The lump often heals and dissipates on its own but if it persists, it can be removed.
· Lipoma is another type of fatty growth that develops within the fat tissue of the breast. These non-cancerous growths will also go away eventually and can also be removed.
· A cancerous lump is fixed (it can't be moved around); it is irregular in shape and texture.
Don't Quit Nursing
A lump in the breast does not spell the end of breastfeeding. In fact, a nursing mother should try to nurse even more in order to help the lump move through the tissues and dissipate. In the case of mastitis, nursing throughout the situation (painful as it might be) actually gives the baby important antibodies through the breast milk. If the lump is an abscess that is close to the nipple and must be removed, or if the mother is going through chemotherapy, then breastfeeding is not advised.
Avoiding Breast Lumps
The best way to avoid breast lumps is for a breastfeeding mother to make her own self-care a priority by ensuring that she replace the extra energy stores used to make breast milk. That means eating well, resting, and getting enough fluids. Most breast lumps are caused by poor diet and dehydration.
Breastfeeding can and should be a most amazing and wonderful experience for a mother and for the baby. It draws a closeness that isn't gained any other way. To be sure your experience is everything you hoped it would be, learn about breastfeeding and the various aspects associated with it on this site.
Be sure to check the article, Lumps and Bumps While Breastfeeding for more information on the various lumps and what they mean.