Lump in Breast during Breastfeeding

Breast feeding lump in breast tissue

Lactating breasts do feel lumpier than non-lactating breasts as they are filled with milk, more blood and also more lymph. The quantity of milk in the breasts can also differ now and then, which will cause the breasts to feel clumpier at times.

A lactating mother should self-examine her breasts often, so that she can easily pick up on any abnormal lumps.

A Lump in Breast Tissue during Lactation can Indicate:

 Mastitis or Plugged ducts: Read more on mastitis symptoms here.

Galactoceles “lacteal cysts”: These are cysts that are filled with milk, due to a blockade of a milk duct. They do not hamper breastfeeding, and are typically non-cancerous.

These cysts are usually tender to the touch, and can be moved around under the skin. They usually disappear on their own, but can persist and return.

•    Fibrocystic Changes: These are very common and include cysts, fibromas, lipomas, and hamartomas.

Usually seen as a sensitive, thick or bumpy region in the breast. If Mom’s periods have returned already, the symptoms of Fibrocystic Changes are generally worse during menstruation.

•    Diabetic mastopathy: Non-cancerous lumps found in diabetic women. These do not inhibit breastfeeding. They are usually painless, moveable lumps and are commonly irregular in shape.

•    Cancer: This is very rare. Cancer has the same signs of mastitis, with swelling and pain. There may be roughening of the skin, which looks a lot like the skin on an orange.

If you have the symptoms of Mastitis, and they have persisted longer than three days, it would be best to see your doctor, to rule out cancer.

Signs that may Indicate Other Problems, other than just Plugged Ducts or Mastitis:

•    Baby keeps rejecting the breast that has the lump in it.

•    The breast with the lump is starting to produce much less milk, even though baby is drinking just as much from it.

•    Mom has the symptoms of mastitis, but with no fever. The symptoms are also not resolved with antibiotics.

• A plugged duct that keeps recurring in the same area.

Breast Lump and Breast Feeding: The Diagnosis.

X-rays: Do not affect milk.

Ultrasound and CAT scan.

Mammograms: No research on safety has been done.

MRI: Mom can continue to breastfeeding directly afterwards, new research finds that MRI compounds, cannot be absorbed through the breast milk.

Fine needle aspiration: Fluid from the lump is removed, Mom can breastfeed immediately afterwards.

Fine needle biopsy: A few cells are removed for lab tests. Mom can breastfeed immediately after.

Core biopsy: under local anaesthetic, a larger, hollow needle is used to remove a piece of the lump. Mom can breastfeed immediately after.

Surgical biopsy: A small opening is made, and the lump is removed under local anaesthetic. Breastfeeding can continue if the incision is not near Mom’s nipple, where baby’s mouth touches while breastfeeding.


It is important that Mom finds a doctor and surgeon that is “breastfeeding friendly”, and to let them know that she would like to continue breastfeeding.

Remember that abrupt weaning can cause more problems and more infection. Breast milk helps to heal any injured areas inside, and outside of the breast, therefore, continued breastfeeding can help Mom heal faster.

Further Treatments

Chemotherapy: Is incompatible with breastfeeding; Mom will need to stop breastfeeding.

• Any radioactive substances used during treatment: Mom will need to pump and dump her milk until the substances have cleared from her body.  

Radiation therapy: Mom can continue to breastfeed, but the breast that is treated may produce less milk after this therapy.

Prevention of Breast Lumps during Breastfeeding

•    Wear well fitted bras that do not have underwire. A tight bra can cause pressure and plugged ducts which can lead to other problems.

•    Do not wean abruptly. Decrease feeds by one or two per week.

• Avoid drinking caffeine and consuming too much fat, which some specialist say contribute to fibrocystic changes.


Top of lump in breast during breastfeeding

Tracy Ann Behr, CBC, CLD, (CBI)

Reference: Breastfeeding Counselor Course information on breastfeeding physiology /  braestfeeding problems / anatomy issues / breast lumps.


Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” in connection with this page on “lumps in breast tissue”

Breast care guide for breastfeeding mothers

Cancer while breastfeeding

Surgery and breastfeeding

Medication and breastfeeding


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