Breast feeding is a time when the breast requires utmost care. The breasts are anatomically designed to secrete milk and drain them to the nipple. Many a people do not experience any problems while breast feeding, while there are people who suffer from recurrent breast lumps and infectionswhile breast feeding.
Causes of Lumps During Breast Feeding
A most common cause of lumps during breast feeding is due to clogged ducts. The clogged ducts obstruct the smooth flow of milk to the nipples and therefore there is inadequate drainage of milkscausing lumpsand bumps in the breast. These lumps cause pain and swelling. If left unattended this could even lead to mastitis or other infection. The area may be warm to touch. This type of breast is also called ‘caked breast’.
Inadequate Breast Feeding
The babies may find it difficult to feed during to inverted nipple or if the baby is premature, it will face difficulties while suckling. Incomplete emptying of breasts will result inpainful lumps in the breast due to accumulation of milk. Not feeding with both the breast or feeding just one breast will also cause accumulation of milk. Shortened, missed feeding, improper latch on and positioning can lead to inadequate breast feeding.
Mastitis is the inflammation of breast tissues. There will be a painful reddened spot on the outer or upper area of the breast but it can occur anywhere. The painful swelling is often accompanied with fever, headache, lethargy etc. Mastitis is caused by the entry of bacteria through cracked nipple, either from inadequate hygiene or from the baby’s mouth. Mastitis usually occurs only in one breast.
A breast abscess is a localized collection of pus in the breast. They are found just under the skin near the nipple or deep in the breast far away from the nipple. Abscess usually occurs as a result of untreated mastitis. The swelling is very painful, with fever and other general symptoms.
Galactoceles are localized collection of milk and occurs mainly due to obstructed duct. The water portion gets absorbed leaving cheesy matter behind. During lactation they fill up with milk. They are smooth to touch, mobile and tender.
A lactating adenoma is made up of masses of acini and lobules. They present as painless swellings. Fibroadenomas are made up of glandular and fibrous breast tissues. They are benign breast tumours. Lipomas are fat filled cysts that occur in the breast.
One of the breast should be completely emptied during breast feeding. Ensure that breast is fed even during mastitis or abscess.
Apply moist heat to the breast before feeding. This will increase circulation to the area and unclog the ducts. It will improve smooth drainage of milk from the lumps. Moist heat can be applied in the form of moist compress or a warm bath before feeding.
Wear a supportive bra during lactating period. Avoid tight fitting bras, they put undue pressure. Avoid under wire bras.
Clean the breast before and after feeding. Wear clean bra. If there are nipple cracks then special attention shold be paid to hygiene, otherwise infection will enter into breast tissue through cracked nipple. Treat a cracked nipple or an inverted nipple at the earliest. Ensure the hygiene of baby’s mouth too. Very often the infection can be contracted through some conditions in the mouth like thrush.
Treat a cracked nipple toprevent mastitis If mastitis have developed treat it properly to avoid abscess. You may have to take antibiotics or pain killers.
It is always best to get the lumps evaluated by a medical professional to rule out the presence of malignancy.