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 lumpier at times.
A lactating mother should self-examine her breasts often, so that she can easily pick up on any abnormal lumps.
• 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 hematomas.
Usually seen as a sensitive, thick or bumpy region in the breast. If the mother’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:
• Your 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 your baby is drinking just as much from it.
• The mother 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 breastfeed directly afterwards, new research finds that MRI compounds, cannot be absorbed through the breast milk.
• Fine needle aspiration: Fluid from the lump is removed, the mother can breastfeed immediately afterwards.
• Core biopsy: under local anaesthetic, a larger, hollow needle is used to remove a piece of the lump. The mother 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 her nipple, where her baby’s mouth touches while breastfeeding.
• Fine needle biopsy: A few cells are removed for lab tests. The mother can breastfeed immediately after.
is important that the mother finds a doctor and surgeon that is “breastfeeding
friendly", and to let them know that she would like to continue
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 the mother heal
• Chemotherapy: Is incompatible with breastfeeding; The mother will need to stop breastfeeding.
• Any radioactive substances used during treatment: The mother will need to pump and dump her milk until the substances have cleared from her body.
• Radiation therapy: The mother 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.