The protective effect of breastfeeding in lowering the risk of breast cancer has been shown in a number of studies. The risk-reduction appears to be dose-dependent. That means, the longer the period of breastfeeding, the more the benefit. One study suggests that the greatest protection may occur when a little girl is breastfed and grows up to breastfeed her own children.
Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful phases in a new mother’s life. Unfortunately, it is also a period when there are chances of unexpected problems arising. Lack of breast milk, a baby who refuses to feed, painful breasts, infected breasts and breast feeding lumps are just some of the problems that are associated with breastfeeding.
Breast feeding lumps are quite common during this stage. Spotting the lump and getting it diagnosed and treated on time can lead to less tension and faster healing. Listed below are some of the common reasons for a breast feeding lump and how they can be cured.
Hard breast lumps that still move slightly within the breast and are uniform in shape are likely the result of a plugged duct, mastitis, an abscess or a galactocele. A plugged duct is the least serious but it must be treated immediately so it does not worsen into mastitis or an abscess. If a woman has mastitis, she will also have a high fever and flu-like symptoms. Often she will have red streaks radiating from the nipple. An abscess results when a plugged duct swells dramatically, sometimes to the size of a lime. A galactocele is a small cyst filled with milk. Cancerous breast lumps are fixed and irregular in shape and texture.
causes my breast ducts to become blocked
- Your baby does not drain your breasts often enough. This may be because you’re feeding to a routine or have dropped a feed.
- Your baby does not drain your breast fully. This may be because she’s not latched on well, perhaps because your breasts are engorged or she has tongue-tie.
- Your milk flow is obstructed because you’re wearing tight clothing, your baby carrier squashes your breasts, or you’re holding your breast too near your nipple. Your milk can become backed up whether you’re feeding or not if there’s continuous pressure on your breasts.
- You’ve had a knock or blow to your breast.
Reasons For A Breast Feeding Lump
If engorgement or blocked ducts are not relieved promptly a mother may get symptoms of mastitis—inflammation of the breast. This will be very painful and may cause mum to feel generally unwell with flu type symptoms such as feeling achey and shivery. Left untreated, mastitis may be associated with an infection requiring antibiotics.
The most common cause of a breast feeding lump is a plugged duct. Tight bras, improper latching on while feeding and infrequent feeding all lead to a plugged duct. This results in a painful lump around the nipple area, with the breast becoming hot and red. The best way to cure a plugged duct is by allowing the baby to feed on the infected breast until it is completely empty.
If the baby stops feeding before the breast is emptied out, the milk must be manually expressed. Frequent feeding and warm compresses will help relieve the pain and unclog the duct. If a plugged duct is not treated on time, it could lead to a more severe problem known as mastitis.
Some women are prone to benign tumors in their breasts. These are absolutely harmless. Some of these tumors may be painful, however breastfeeding must continue as usual. Lipomas, adenomas and fibroadenomas are some such benign lumps that may become more prominent during breastfeeding.
While most lumps are harmless, malignancy and abscesses must be ruled out. A doctor must be consulted if the baby refuses to feed on the affected breast or if there is no improvement in the symptoms even after three days of regular emptying out of the breast and warm compresses.
A breast abscess is the collection of pus in a localized area in the breast. A very prominent lump forms in the area of the abscess. The pus must be drained off for healing to begin. This is done as an outpatient procedure with the help of a needle or a catheter. The baby must be encouraged to feed on the affected breast even though the taste of the milk may change temporarily.
If the baby refuses to feed on the affected breast, the milk must be expressed manually. If the abscess is very close to the nipple and there is a risk of it coming in touch with the baby’s lips, breastfeeding on that breast must be avoided until the abscess has completely dried up and healed.